David Cameron today six times dodged revealing if anyone would be worse off after next year’s tax credit cuts came into force.
During Prime Minister Question’s this afternoon, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly pressed Mr Cameron over the impact of the policy, which has been estimated will leave three million families more than a thousand pound a year worse off.
Chancellor George Osborne claimed he had listened to concerns, and would reveal changes to the plans later this year.
Speaking from the Despatch Box, Mr Corbyn asked the Prime Minister to “guarantee that nobody will be worse off next year as a result of cuts to Working Tax Credits?”
Mr Cameron replied: “What I can guarantee is we remain committed to the vision of a high-pay, low-tax, lower welfare economy and we believe the way to make sure everyone is better off is to keep growing our economy, keep inflation low, keep cutting people’s taxes and introduce our National Living Wage.
“As for our changes, the Chancellor will set them out in the Autumn Statement.”
Mr Corbyn pressed the point six times in total, culminating with an email from a voter concerned about the changes.
As the Labour leader said: “Can I put to him a question I was sent by…” the Conservative benches began to jeer.
Mr Corbyn said: “Mr Speaker, it might be very amusing to members opposite, but I was sent this question by Karen and I quote: ‘Why is the Prime Minister punishing working families? I work full-time and earn the living wage within the public sector. The tax credit cuts will push me and my family into hardship.’
“Can he give a cast iron guarantee to Karen and all the other families who are very worried about what is going to happen next April to their income, and how they are going to make ends meet.
“He could give them the answer today. I hope he will. I ask him for the sixth time, please give us an answer to a very straight-forward, very simple question.”
Mr Cameron replied: “If she is on the living wage and working in the public sector, next year in April she will from benefit from being able to earn £11,000 before she pays any income tax at all. It was around £6,000 when I became Prime Minister.”
Some Labour MPs who had previously been sceptical about Mr Corbyn becoming leader took to Twitter to complement his performance in the Chamber.
Jeremy Corbyn was much more effective at Pm questions by concentrating on the one issue of tax credits. Clear win today.— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) October 28, 2015
Mr Corbyn's approach also won praise from political commentators, with some claiming it was his best performance at PMQs since becoming leader.
The noise on the Tory benches showed that that was Corbyn's most effective #pmqs yet. Stuck to one topic and made life awkward for the PM.— Sam Macrory (@sammacrory) October 28, 2015
Six Corbyn Qs on tax credits, Cameron dodges the lot. Tories groan at "Karen". Not a good look #PMQs— Graeme Demianyk (@GraemeDemianyk) October 28, 2015
Cameron dodges question six times then Tory benches groan at Corbyn referencing a member of the public. Oh dear.— Alex Wickham (@WikiGuido) October 28, 2015