THE BLOG
20/10/2015 12:05 BST | Updated 20/10/2016 06:12 BST

Double Whammy Pay and Tax Credit Cuts for Public Servants

Five months in, we already have a very clear picture of life under a Tory government. It is a gruesome image, but one that we do not have to accept. We can defeat these grossly unfair cuts to tax credits and in so doing expose the fact that austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.

It is so grotesque you have to almost marvel at the way the Tories claim in one breath to be the party of working people and in the next try to justify cutting billions of pounds from tax credits.

Entirely unsurprisingly all the analysis shows cutting measures designed to support those on low and modest incomes disproportionately hits those on low and modest incomes.

Two thirds of the cuts will be borne on the shoulders of the poorest 30% households and some will lose their eligibility entirely. The higher minimum wage - whose meaningless rebrand serves only to illustrate the low level of intelligence George Osborne must credit us with - will fail to compensate for the losses, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says.

These families were lied to by David Cameron before the election when he said he "rejected" proposals to cut their tax credits. He told a similar lie about frontline cuts before the 2010 election.

The doublespeak is perfectly illustrated by the government's treatment of its own staff. Ministers claim wages will rise to compensate for the cut to in-work benefits, but pay for civil servants and their colleagues across the public sector - whose real incomes have fallen by up to 20% since 2010 - is being capped for four more years. So they are hit twice.

While officially the cap is 1%, this does not mean people will see this in their pay packets as it is applied to the whole pay bill, with a long list of inclusions such as progression payments, allowances and even the cost of "non-pay rewards".

I raised this double whammy effect with the Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock shortly after he took up his post, pointing out officials in the largest government department estimated around 40% of their staff rely on benefits and tax credits. I have not yet heard a satisfactory explanation for how this is justified.

Such a casual approach to truth and reality is becoming a feature of this Tory government. In the trade union bill, this so-called party of working people is driving through parliament the most draconian, vindictive and unnecessary piece of legislation our country has seen for many years.

With its partners in crime the Lib Dems last time round, this same party of working people mercilessly cut public sector jobs, pay, pensions and redundancy payments, introduced fees for employment tribunals and opposed calls for a review of exploitative zero-hours contracts.

So when Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says "decisions like this define governments", he is right. Five months in, we already have a very clear picture of life under a Tory government. It is a gruesome image, but one that we do not have to accept. We can defeat these grossly unfair cuts to tax credits and in so doing expose the fact that austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.