COLUMN by Crawley MP Henry Smith: Tax cuts for 42,000 Crawley residents

Newly published research by HM Treasury shows that the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement announced at the end of 2012 has provided for tax cuts for 42,404 Crawley residents starting from April.  Indeed as a direct result of the provisions outlined by the Chancellor, 1,716 of the lowest paid local families will be lifted out of paying income tax altogether. 

Additionally, the agreement struck between the Government, Conservative Crawley and West Sussex local authorities along with the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, means that council tax will be frozen for a third year up to April 2014 at least.

It is this Government that is also reforming Labour’s ‘something for nothing’ welfare culture, with the British Attitudes Survey showing that the majority of Britons felt that people were not sufficiently incentives to find work.

Reforms such as capping the amount one household can get in benefits to no more than £26,000 per annum (the average workers household income) is ensuring a lasting balance between the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities and a fair deal for hard working taxpayers. Labour oppose these reforms.

The previous Labour  Government had spent money like it was going out of fashion and the only way to fuel this spending habit was to borrow more and more, even at the peak of the debt-fuelled boom.  Despite our nation’s economic woes, Labour increased spending on benefits by £75 billion and by the time they were forced out of office they were spending £90billion on benefits alone (excluding pensions) – more than the entire education budget.   It is hardly surprising, therefore, that in pumping such vast sums of money into the benefits system, Labour had created a culture of dependency where you could easily be better off on benefits than trying to find work.

When this Government came to power, it therefore embarked on the most far-reaching welfare reforms for a generation, aimed at giving people back their aspiration and self respect.  The message is clear: it pays to work.

By reforming the welfare state, this Government has been able to save a record amount from the welfare budget by reinvesting £2.5 billion of those savings into real, targeted support that will change peoples’ lives.  For example, Universal Credit - the most fundamental reform of our benefits system for a generation, on time and on budget.  The Government has already announced measures and taken action to reduce the welfare bill by £18 billion and it has reformed welfare so that it will be more effective in transforming lives.

If you want to work hard and get on, the Conservatives are on your side. Your taxes will be cut so you keep more of the money you have earned. In addition, the Work & Pensions Secretary is capping the increase in benefits so that benefit increases do not outstrip increases in average earnings.

Labour want benefits to go up more than the earnings of people in work and have voted to oppose the Government’s fair proposals in Parliament.  My colleagues and I simply cannot understand why families on benefits have been allowed to earn more from benefits than the average hard working family does.  Their something for nothing culture is simply not fair to all.