Labour is to oppose the government's benefits proposals, Ed Balls announced on Tuesday, calling the announced 1% rise "unfair".
Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday morning, the Shadow Chancellor committed his party to opposing the plans after a weekend spent deliberating on a response. "We will oppose it, Mr Speaker," said Balls, contrasting the government's 1% rise in benefits last week with its 5% cut in the top rate of tax on high-earners earlier this year.
The chancellor, George Osborne, announced in his Autumn Statement that most benefits would be capped to a 1% yearly rise, below the rate of inflation.
The move would result in a real terms cut for those on unemployment, housing, child and maternity benefits, as well as some tax credits.
Meanwhile, carers allowance and disability benefits are set to rise in line with inflation.
Balls said: “In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced a real term cut in tax credits and benefits over the next three years, and the Government says it will ask the House to vote on this.
“So could the Chancellor today tell the House the answer to two questions? First what percentage of families hit by these cuts to tax credits and benefits are in work?
“We will look at the legislation but if he intends to go ahead with such an unfair hit on middle and lower income working families while he is giving a £3 billion top rate tax cut we will oppose it. Why is he making striving working families pay the price for his economic failure?”
Over the weekend, Balls had said Labour would "wait for legislation" before deciding on a course of action.
The shadow chancellor told the Sky News Murnaghan programme: "George Osborne is playing a political game here because he wants us to commit to legislation he's not even published while many of your voters still think he's being honest when he says it's only an assault on the feckless and the workshy.
"We need to change the debate and say to people, look at the truth about who is losing, lower and middle income families."
"We will wait for the legislation," he said on Sunday, adding that Labour would set three tests on whether any change was going to hit working people, impact child poverty and be fair.