The House of Lords overruled the controversial Conservative policy to cut tax credits, which would leave 3 million working families in the UK worse off. This only proves the unsettling truth that false promises from the people we put into power are now the norm. It has become, somewhat sadly, a bleak tradition that an assurance of policy grows twisted when put into practise.
Tax credits redistribute income by paying money to families raising children, or working people on a lower income, and David Cameron assured the public that, if elected, he would not cut them. Once they sought victory in the election, George Osborne fast claimed that the cuts were introduced to inhibit any return to what he described as “uncontrolled spending”, and so, history, as expected, is seen to repeat itself. Hence, there was an overwhelming feeling among, not only the opposing parties, but also many Conservative MPs, that the cuts to tax credits were unnecessary, cruel and damaging, which the majority of the House of Lords decidedly agreed when voting to delay the policy.
This piece of news brings about two very complex issues. Firstly, was the policy to cut tax credits a step too far, and secondly, should the House of Lords (an unelected committee) have the right to overrule a policy put forward by an elected government? Though I would ordinarily disagree with the latter, I do believe that these were extenuating circumstances where the House of Lords was right to intervene, given the 3 million working families that would have suffered at the hands of the tax credit cuts. Though it has been argued that the higher minimum wage that Osborne implemented into the 2015 budget would raise overall income, this isn’t the case. The higher minimum wage alone would allow a working family with two children to earn £1100 more each year, but combined with the cuts to tax credits, it would in actual fact make them £1800 worse off. Consequently, it would appear to be a façade.
Prior to the general election, David Cameron expressed that the accusation the Conservatives are “the party of the rich” makes him “more angry than anything else”. It is therefore ironic that yet another of his party’s policies directly target and negatively affect lower-income families. The fact of the matter remains, if the House of Lords denied a policy by an elected government, this should send a clear signal to the public and indeed, fellow politicians, that the cuts were a step too far in decreasing the quality of life for working families. People are getting tired of being punished for the greed of bankers and big business owners. Thus, if it took the House of Lords to interfere at an unelected level, then so be it. In this instance, the decision was right.