There is “growing internal Conservative unease” over the tax credits cuts, the Times has reported today. Anger and uncertainty over the impact of the cuts planned for April 2016 and April 2017 have been reflected in recent debates in parliament, including:
- a Commons debate on 15 September, on the draft Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 which reduce the income thresholds, increase the rate of taper where income exceeds a threshold, and reduce the income disregard from April 2016; and
- a public bill committee debate on 13 October, on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill which introduces a two-child limit on child tax credit from April 2017. The government has said it will take “a careful and sensitive approach” to working out how to provide exceptions to the two-child limit.
The regulations must be approved by both Houses of Parliament, and on 26 October the House of Lords will debate a “motion to regret”. A Lords committee has complained that the explanatory note accompanying the regulations in September “contained minimal information”:
“Soon after the draft Regulations were laid, we requested additional information from HMRC, about why the Government had not published an impact assessment, and whether the Government had prepared some other assessment of the effect of the changes proposed.”
Last week George Osborne sent an impact assessment to the committee, whose report added:
“The Chancellor’s letter of 12 October 2015 and the enclosed Impact Assessment shed more light on the effects of the proposed changes than was provided by the Explanatory Memorandum laid on 7 September. When it considers the draft Regulations, the House will wish to reach a view on the adequacy of the information about their impact with which we have been provided.”
An Opposition day debate on the cuts will be held on Tuesday, 20 October, and it has been reported that the Commons work and pensions committee, chaired by Frank Field, will launch an inquiry into the overall impact into the cuts.
The public bill committee’s consideration of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill will continue on 20 October, and the Bill will go to the Lords once it has completed its Commons stages.