Pauline Latham OBE – Member of Parliament for Mid Derbyshire:
I believe it is vital to live within our means as a country and better protect spending on public services. To do that, the Government has needed to find at least a further £12 billion of welfare savings and, as promised, this is what it has found.
These changes will ensure that work is encouraged and will put the welfare system on a more sustainable footing. The sheer scale of Tax Credits is subsidising lower wages in a way that was never intended. By focusing Tax Credits and Universal Credit on those on lower incomes, and freezing in working age benefits for four-years, the welfare system will be kept affordable and provide support for those most in need.
I recognise that these changes are not easy, but they are fair, and they return tax credit spending to the level it was in 2007-08 in real terms. Importantly, the timing of these changes comes alongside the introduction of a new National Living Wage for over 25s. This will be set at £7.20 from April 2016 and I welcome that Ministers are aiming for all over 25s to earn at least £9 per hour by 2020, a direct pay rise to over 2 million worked worth up to £5000 per year.
On the issue of trade unions, I think it is only fair that the rights of unions are balanced with the rights of hardworking taxpayers who rely on key public services. It is wrong that politicised union leaders can hold the country to ransom with demands that only a small percentage of their members voted for.
I am glad the Government will rebalance the interest of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions by introducing a 50 per cent voting threshold for union ballot turnouts. Trade unions are valuable institutions in British society, but I agree with the Government’s plans to ensure they accurately represent the views of their members.