Welfare cuts will not work


The introduction of tax credits by the last Labour government resulted in millions of people being lifted out of poverty and played a major part in one of the biggest improvements in poverty alleviation seen in Britain since the war.

It is therefore disappointing that many Labour MPs did not vote against the Tory welfare reforms given that nearly half the £12 billion of cuts will come from reductions in tax credits.

We should be exposing the flaws in this approach, the fact that it will worsen in-work poverty, drive more children into living in poverty and do nothing to help more people into work; indeed it is more likely to drive people out of work.

The argument seems to be that middle England support the Tory approach so Labour must follow middle England and show we are tough on welfare, tough on benefits and tough on the poor, with the hope that people might vote for us.

Personally I say grow a backbone, show leadership and put forward an alternative to attacking the working poor.

When it comes to fairness, I would suggest supporting people to remain in work cannot be described as unfair. Raising the threshold for inheritance tax from £650,000 to £1 million, cutting taxes further up the income scale and imposing further austerity that will stifle economic growth seems to me to be less fair. Contrary to expectations, the kind of cuts being made will impact on growth, the labour market and public finances.

Labour must present an alternative and by doing so build support. Productivity in the UK remains flat and has been since the crash.  Reversing this will only be tackled by investment in infrastructure and capital, not by cuts, but the Tories offer no policy in this area.

We must see in Scotland investment in skills, in training and in jobs, an agenda for full employment and decent wages.  We can begin this by setting out our strategy for the living wage becoming the norm and we must use the welfare system to tackle inequality, get people into work and drive job creation programmes like a national house building programme.

My message to labour MPs is that I would vote against the welfare proposals from the Tories because they are flawed, they fail to address the key issues. We need to attack the lack of investment, the lack of productivity and the lack of ambition for our country, leave the Tories to attack the poor, that is their ground not ours.

Post Author: Alex Rowley