Tax Credits Cuts: Tory Millionaire Minister's Verdict
6 October 2015
One of the top millionaire members of the Tory Cabinet, Jeremy Hunt, has given his vigorous support to the huge cuts in tax credits that will be unleashed on working families with a lecture that they will be a “very important cultural signal”.
According to Mr Hunt it will "teach them to work as hard as the Chinese or the Americans".
Mr Hunt’s wounding remarks illustrate just how remote and cut-off the Tory Government is from working families in the UK.
His sermon implies that workers in Britain do not work hard enough.
Research published last year by the TUC discredit the insult.
It found that employees in the UK already work the longest hours in Europe with 1 in 5 staff working an extra day a week in unpaid overtime
If hours worked alone determined the quality of a job and the corresponding reward for work, he needed look no further than working hours and wages in the US and its neighbour Mexico.
The average Mexican works almost 60 working days a year more than the average American , but for only a fraction of the American wage.
Mr Hunt’s exhortation that UK workers should work as hard as the Americans and the Chinese omits to inform them that America is almost the only developed country which does not require employers to give employees time off, and it is also one of the few that do not provide for guaranteed paid maternity leave.
Furthermore, a recent research study of Chinese working hours by the country’s academics concluded that the culture of long working hours were bad for workers’ health and for the economy itself.
The average Chinese worker was found to work over 200 hours a year more than those in other countries in the developed world.
The study recommended that working hours should be reduced because a better work-life balance would make the workforce more productive and healthier, and would increase consumption through longer hours of leisure.
The Tory elite live in world far removed from the desperate daily stress, anxiety and worry of working families who juggle hours, jobs and money.
Reducing their tax credits to somehow “dignify” their lives shows the width of the chasm between the Tory government and the lives of real people.
The claim by George Osborne and David Cameron that the increase in the minimum wage would compensate for the cuts in tax credits has already been taken apart by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, its Director Paul Johnson saying:
‘The key fact is that the increase in the minimum wage simply cannot provide full compensation for the majority of losses that will be experienced by tax credit recipients. That is just arithmetically impossible.”
“May you live in interesting times” is supposedly an old Chinese saying – a curse – and for many today it means the dread of even more hard living and insecurity that the Tories’ tax credit cuts will bring.
This, after all, was David Cameron, speaking as Leader of the Opposition , during the 2010 General Election campaign :
“We will always look after the needy, the disadvantaged, the elderly, the frail and the poorest of our country. That is the sort of person I am, that is the sort of Prime Minister I would be.”