Yes that's right! You the Low Paid Worker who currently claims Working and/or Child Tax Credits to top up your Low Pay. You, the part time supermarket worker,You the Mum juggling childcare and working Part Time, You the Avon/Betterware rep struggling for sales in Austerity UK, You the Dad whose hours have been cut and you can't get a 2nd job because it doesn't fit in with your current jobs shift pattern. Me - Part Time Sales Rep, Self Employed, Low Paid, Mum to Four Sons. Husband also Self Employed - Struggling in 2 Part Time Enterprises to make ends meet.
"No you're wrong!" I hear you say. "George Osborne stood in a warehouse at Morrisons and continuously referred to us as "HardWorking Families" "Getting Up In the Mornings" "Working Hard - Doing the Right Thing"
No more! Not content with hounding the Jobseekers, the Disabled, the People Living in Social Housing with a spare Bedroom - Bedroom Tax - now it's the turn of The Workers, the Low Paid, often Part Time Workers who as Mark Hoban Minister at DWP has accused of "Pursuing Hobbies" whilst not working enough hours to be self sufficient.
This is unprecedented territory for any Government. Up until April 2013, even if we are Low Paid, there is always the knowledge we are supported by a top -up of Tax Credits to acknowledge our "striving". But the Coalition Govwrnment no longer agrees. Now that the assault and demonisation of the Poorest in Society begins in earnest the Government are thirsty for another target, another section of society to ostracise - The Low Paid Worker.
Whilst I cannot put the phrase "Hard Working Families" into one blog, as many times as George Osborne put into his key note speech at Morrisons I can say "Low Paid Workers" until I am blue in the face! This section of society, Mr Duncan -Smith and co actually WORK! STRIVE! CONTRIBUTE.. The very section of society you previously admired and encouraged. The very section of society Margaret Thatcher thought so much of, she brought in her hugely popular Right To Buy your Council Home Policy! What has changed?
In the Guardian's article Low Paid to be Pushed into More Hours Patrick Wintour talks of " a new frontier on Welfare" where more frequent interviews at the Job Centre await the Low Paid, scrutinisation of hours worked and an "encouragement to seek more hours" in order to become self sufficient and off Tax Credits and ultimately Universal Credit. The DWP refer to the Low Paid on Tax Credits as "Working Less than could be reasonably expected".
So the Mum juggling childcare and Part Time Work is "Working Less than is Reasonably Expected". Mr Osborne announced in the budget that in 2015 mums will be given £1200 for childcare expenses. He deliberately EXCLUDED mums on working tax credits - the very people who need childcare help!! So how is Mum with a few kids supposed to increase her hours to become self sufficient when she is denied childcare help? But Mum on £149k is given the £1200 towards childcare? Madness!!
The dad whose hours have been cut. The last time I looked the UK was facing unprecedented austerity. He will be "encouraged" - another way of saying "forced" in DWP speak to increase his hours or get another job paying more or face having his tax credits cut entirely. Result:Unemployed Dad on JSA - another stat, another person to demonise.
This policy along with Bedroom Tax and PIP is another example of a Government policy not thought through at all. It may well save the Government money when people are switched from tax credits to JSA, but it also sends a signal that "working" is not enough anymore. You HAVE to work Full Time as Part Time is "not worthy" anymore. I'd also like the Government to consider that if Mums are "forced" into increasing hours with little or no childcare support who is raising our children?
To this end I am so incensed with Government policy on the Low Paid Workers, that I have started a twitter campaign under the hash tag of #StandUpForTheLowPaid . I am asking each and every Labour MP and also the Green Party and Plaid Cymru as well as Unions like Unite to stand up and speak out for the Low Paid. I am not saying this section of society is more deserving than another section like the Jobseekers or Disabled. In my view we all stand together, unitedly opposed to the detrimental Welfare Cuts this Government are inflicting on the people least able to carry the burden. Indeed I often use the hastag on Twitter : #CampaignForYourNeighbour as with all the cuts we do not know who the Government is coming for next. We must stand united.
While Millionaires get a £42,000 Tax Cut this month, the Low Paid Worker is getting a Tax Credit Cut or Sanction if he/she is not "striving enough". George Osborne stood up in Morrisons on 2nd April 2013 and DEFENDED the tax cut for the higher paid saying - we do not want the brain-drain of skilled people going out of the UK. Yet Osborne is prepared to throw into poverty the supermarket worker he was talking to!
Join my campaign to bring this into the more mainstream public knowledge.
Tweet/ Email your MP, spread the hash tag #StandUpForTheLowPaid on Twitter. Spread the news that the Low Paid could face Tax Credit Cuts or Sanctions on your facebook page. We need Low Paid Workers to know what is happening in their name. Contact your union, tell your neighbours, contact your local papers - The Government is about to come for the Low Paid - We need to be ready.
As I have said many times "If we Tolerate this, then Our Children Will Be Next."