Fiction eight is the biggest lie of them all. This is the fiction that there is one class of taxpayers and a separate underclass of dependents: it is the claim that Britain is divided between the ‘strivers’ and the ‘skivers’, and between the contributors and the claimants. Poverty fact eight is that from time to time, as John Hills of the LSE has shown, almost every family depends on the Welfare State, with the main spending on health, education and pensions – not on the unemployed. Nearly half the country’s children are in poverty at some point in a ten-year period. And we all benefit: while polls suggest people think 40 per cent of Welfare State spending goes to the unemployed, expenditure on unemployment benefits is just 1.5 ore cent, or 8 per cent if we include the disabled and single parents, and the bulk goes to health, pensions and education from which we all benefit.
The Conservatives’ tax credit cuts are anti-work, anti-family, anti-children, anti-women, anti-youth and anti-fairness and run counter to the very basic British values of fairness, responsibility and independence that we hold to be important. With the cuts founded on both cutting children’s benefits and reducing work incentives the Osborne proposals cannot be rescued by amending them: they have to be replaced.