Working Tax Credit Changes

On the 6th April 2012 the rules for Working Tax Credit for couples with children will change. Currently couples have to work at least 16 hours a week between both parents and earn less than around £17,700 to be entitled to Working Tax Credits. From April they will have to increase their working hours to at least 24 hours, or they will lose their whole entitlement to Working Tax Credit, worth £3,870 a year.

UNISON has produced a briefing note (attached) which provides full information on the changes and further links to websites which can provide more detailed examples of how the changes may affect members and their families.

The changes to Working Tax Credits will hit our low paid women members hard. Alongside the public sector pay freeze our members now face high inflation and widespread attacks to terms and conditions and job losses. Many of our part-time members in vulnerable households, and those with dependents, are forced to rely on state benefits and tax credits to lift them out of poverty. When entitlement to working tax credits ends on 6 April, many will rapidly find themselves on the poverty line

UNISONs Campaign to stop the changes to working tax credits

UNISON believes that the government needs to prioritise building jobs and growth in the economy, not penalise families and couples who are sticking together and working for as many hours as they can in a harsh economic climate.

The argument by government that the change would motivate increases in working hours no longer makes sense in the current economic context where jobs are being cut and additional hours are simply not available. If families have to give up work, the increase in the cost to the state will erode the estimated gains to the Treasury from their changes to Working Tax Credit.

When Universal Credit is phased in between 2013 and 2014 it will reward people for however many hours work they work and the current criteria for set hours of work will be abolished and so families will receive support tapered at a rate dependent on their earnings rather than the hours they work.

This change to Working Tax Credit is pointless and will create real and unnecessary hardship for hundreds of thousands of working families and their children, for a small and temporary gain to the Treasury.

What branches can do

· Make sure members are aware of the changes and have the briefing note
· Lobby MP’s now to put pressure on the government to reverse the changes
You can find your MP at· Use the briefing note to present the key facts and arguments against the changes
· If you want to build a local campaign you could survey your members and find out how these changes will impact on families, carers, the low paid and part time workers with children receiving tax credits
· Contact if you have any case studies

As the March Budget did not contain a reversal on the tax credit changes, UNISON will continue to campaign to delay the changes until Universal Credit is phased in between 2013 and 2014.