GEORGE OSBORNE was told to ensure hard-working people are paid the living wage yesterday, not freeze the benefits they rely on to keep above the breadline.
The Chancellor outdid even himself in the “nasty party” stakes, insisting a future Tory government would freeze working age benefits for two years.
In one of his biggest attacks to date on Britain’s low-paid workers, Mr Osborne said he would introduce the freeze in 2016 calling welfare dependency “a scar on society.”
He said the policy would exclude disability and pensioner benefits, claiming the move would save £3 billion.
Left economist Andrew Fisher (pictured below) told the Star: “Millions of workers need tax credits and housing benefits because the rents and mortgages are so high and due to a failed economy of low paid, low skill, insecure jobs.
“Cutting benefits will send hundreds of thousands of people into poverty, and many even deeper into poverty.”
Labour’s treasury spokesman Chris Leslie accused the Chancellor of “cutting tax credits which make work pay for millions of striving families.”
And the TUC said policy “puts families with children in the frontline of austerity again.”
“In today’s low-pay Britain, in-work benefits are a lifeline for millions of families,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards pointed out that most people who receive benefits are already in work.
“However, the labour market is blighted by low wages and zero-hours contracts which mean that wages need to be topped up by benefits just so that people have enough to get by from week to week,” he said.
“What we urgently need is a living wage.”
At the same time Mr Osborne made another bid to rescue the Tory vote from Ukip incursions, pledging to abolish the 55 per cent tax charged when untouched defined contributions are passed onto a dependent.
General union GMB’s pensions officer Phil McEvoy pointed out that the proposal will only benefit the “privileged few” who can afford not to touch them.
Ms O’Grady added: “It tells you everything you need to know that George Osborne has unveiled more harsh cuts for working families on the same day as tax breaks for the pension pots of the richest 1 per cent.”