The government u-turn on tax credit cuts grabbed the headlines and sounds like good news, but the Autumn Statement isn't all it appears.
Within just 24 hours of the Chancellor's statement and headlines in the Tory press bemoaning the apparent 'end of austerity', the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) issued a response which warned that because of the plans announced on Wednesday, around 2.6 million working families will be £1600 a year worse off on average. You can read the IFS report on benefit and tax credit changes here, and their full response to the budget statement here.
In short, the IFS calculate that because tax credits are being replaced by Universal Credit (UC) in the next five years, and because UC is unaffected by any changes announced on Wednesday, working families will still lose out when they move to the new system.
What is also worrying is the IFS projection for the long-term impact of tax and benefit changes, which they say will hit the poorest in our society the hardest:
The poorest in our society should not be bearing the biggest load. The Conservatives' cuts are regressive, and according to the IFS the changes announced on Wednesday will make the poorest worse off, not better.
The Chancellor also announced huge cuts to funding for local government which will have a devastating effect on services we all take for granted. Adult social care, children's services including early intervention for children with learning difficulties, school intervention, youth justice, fostering and adoption services, public health prevention and treatment, waste collection and recycling, highways repairs and improvements, libraries, community centres, trading standards, planning and building control, support for victims of domestic and sexual violence, community events licensing and much, much more.
There is so much good and vital work that councils do, and a lot of people are probably unaware of the council's responsibilities. Everybody will soon notice once these services are cut or even lost entirely. This chart (from the Mirror) clearly shows local government bearing the brunt of the Conservative cuts:
It is clear that there is plenty still to fight for, and that the much-heralded scraping of tax credit cuts is not the good news it appeared at first. We must continue to stand together to oppose the devastating Conservative attack on people in Heywood and Middleton.