Date: 14 March 2012
The shopworkers' Union Usdaw says today's rise in unemployment shows why this is the wrong time for the Government to make changes to Working Tax Credits.
Up to 212,000 couples with
children are set to lose £3,870 in tax credits, over £74 a week,
from 6 April unless they can find extra hours of work. Couples with
children currently receive Working Tax Credit if they work at least
16 hours a week, but from next month this will increase to 24
78% of Usdaw members
affected by these changes say they have tried to find more work,
but are unable to get extra hours at a time when unemployment is so
high and employers are cutting back on costs and additional
Official figures released
today show that unemployment has increased by 28,000 on the
previous quarter and now stands at 2.67 million. The unemployment
rate of 8.4% is the highest it has been since 1995. The figures
also reveal that under-employment has hit a new record high, with
1.38 million people working part-time because they are unable to
get full-time jobs.
Despite growing joblessness
and under-employment, the Government claimed last week that couples
could find the extra hours of work they needed. Chloe Smith MP,
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said in Parliament "increasing
the working hour requirements for a couple is entirely fair...hours
Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary, called on the Government
to take note of today's unemployment figures and postpone the
change in the tax credit rules until more work is available and the
economy has started to recover.
"When this policy was
designed, the Government expected the economy to be back into
strong growth with much better job prospects, but the sad fact is
the economy has worsened rather than improved. With the highest
unemployment rate since 1995 and 1.4 million people in part-time
work trying to find full-time jobs, this is absolutely the wrong
time for the Government to be making these changes."
"If the Government doesn't
postpone the changes, it will be punishing thousands of low income
families for the failure of its own economic policies. These are
families on incomes of only around £18,000 a year. Taking nearly
£4,000 from these families will plunge them into absolute poverty
and mean that many are better off on benefits than in work."
"We are calling on David
Cameron and George Osborne to listen to the thousands of couples
affected by these changes who cannot find extra work, and to give
them a proper chance of doing so over the next 18 months, when more
jobs will hopefully become available."
- The quote from Chloe Smith MP is from Monday 5 March
2012, Hansard col 679.
- Usdaw is one of a group of national organisations and charities
who have called on David Cameron and George Osborne to postpone the
changes to Working Tax Credit and to meet with families affected by
the changes to hear about their struggle to find extra work and the
effects of the poverty they will face in 3 weeks' time when they
For further information visit:
- Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is
the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over
410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 20% in the
last six years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw
members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many
members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals
and other trades.