Tax Credit Cuts Will Be A Personal 'Political Disaster,' George Osborne Warned

George Osborne has said he is "comfortable" with his cuts to tax credits, after he was warned it would be a personal "political disaster" for him.

David Cameron angered critics yesterday when he said he was "delighted" at the cuts that the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank estimates will cost millions of families over £1,000 a year.

The chancellor faced MPs at the Treasury committee on Thursday morning and was grilled on the controversial benefit cut which faces opposition from Tories as well as the Labour Party.

Labour MP John Mann, a constant thorn in Osborne's side, told him with a straight face: "We're trying to help you chancellor, to avoid Mrs Thatcher's mistakes with the Poll Tax, because we all saw the TV with Question Time last week."

An emotional plea last Thursday by a Tory voter on the BBC programme for Osborne to abandon the cuts went viral online and hammered home the potential political problem facing the government.

Mann said: "We've had constituents coming and saying: 'we are the people who work hardest in this country, we earn the least, and the government is going to take away the money we need to survive'.

He warned: "That would be a political disaster for you as well as for the country."

Osborne glared back across the committee room as Mann offered the advice.

The political stakes for the chancellor were also raised when Osborne told the committee the cuts were "judgment call".

"It comes down to a very simple judgement, do you think our system is too expensive, do you think we should move to a higher wage lower welfare economy and ultimately that’s a decision we are all being asked to take as members of Parliament," he said.

"I think we all know this is fundamentally a judgement call and I’m comfortable with the judgement call I’ve made and the House of Commons has supported this week."

On Tuesday the government won a Commons vote on the cuts to tax credits. However many Conservative MPs criticised Osborne, including new MP Heidi Allen who used her first ever speech in the chamber to accuse the chancellor of having "betrayed" Tory values.

The benefit cut also faces a challenge in the House of Lords, where an alliance of Labour, Lib Dem and other peers hope to be able to kill it off.

But Osborne told the committee that peer should not challenge the Commons on the issue.

"The question is this: the House of Commons has passed this measure twice; now it sits in the House of Lords. And the question for the House of Lords is: is it going to respect the 1911 settlement that says the House of Lords does not second guess the House of Commons on financial matters," he said.

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