Unlike most of the members opposite, I speak today as someone who has relied on tax credits for much of my working life before I came to this House.
I worked as a home help, while bringing up a child.
Tax credits enabled me to go back to work, and to keep some self-respect.
The job I did was a worthy one, but was low paid. I believe I was doing my bit and trying my best to be a good role model to my son.
This was not about wanting a handout. Quite simply, I needed support. Tax credits were a lifeline.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I cannot convey to you the deep gut-wrenching feeling you get as a parent on the breadline when your child comes home from school and says “Mum, my shoes have a hole in them I need a new pair”.
You panic, yes Mr Deputy Speaker, you panic - because, in that instant, you know it takes your financial situation over the edge. You have no idea how you will pay for your child’s needs. You feel like a failure.
Yet these parents are not failures – quite the opposite. They are the back bone of our society, working hard looking after vulnerable people. Is it their fault that we MPs get paid £74,000 a year while they are paid a pittance?
A home carer in my constituency today, doing the same job I did, can expect to earn an average salary, if working full time, of £14,075/year.
The Chancellor’s increase in the personal tax allowance provides a paltry increase of £80 a year – just £1.54 a week – from April next year.
When the impact of these changes to the tax credit threshold and taper are factored in, they will find that they are £1,689.45 a year - £32.49/week - worse off because their tax credits have been cut by £1,769.45.
And this will happen to thousands of my constituents. The Library’s statistics show that there are more than 8,000 children in families who rely on tax credits in my constituency.
This cannot be right – the Tories want to re-brand themselves the party of working people, yet they are hitting working families across this country hard by taking a valuable life-line away.
These Regulations will plunge working families over the edge and deeper into poverty.
As a former home help and a mother, I cannot stand idly by on my MPs’ salary and say, “I’m alright Jack”.
I will speak up for my constituents, and I will oppose this attack on them.