Upper Bann facing tax credit bombshell

editorial image

The Upper Bann constituency stands to be one of the hardest hit by Government cuts to tax credits, a leading trade union has claimed.

According to figures supplied by trade union UNISON this area has the highest number of families claiming tax credits across the province‘s 18 parliamentary constituencies.

Upper Bann topped the poll with 6,800 families claiming tax credits - with some 13,000 children in those families.

According to the union Government cuts to tax credits next April will leave nearly 91,100 low to middle income working families across Northern Ireland – and their 175,400 children – significantly worse off.

Using official figures published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) UNISON has calculated that across the UK more than 2.7 million working families – or two in five of all working families with dependent children – could lose as much as £3,000 a year next April. This is equivalent to the entire population of Greater Manchester, where the Conservative party conference got underway on Sunday.

And in working households across the UK, where the parents are in receipt of tax credits, there are 5.2m children, equivalent to the entire population of Scotland.

In Northern Ireland there are 175,400 children whose parents will be penalised by the changes to tax credits.

In his July Budget, the Chancellor announced changes to the tax credit taper and threshold, a move that will see £4.4bn a year taken out of the pockets of low to middle income families across the UK.

In some cases people stand to lose more than ten per cent of their take home pay.

Unsurprisingly, says UNISON, the most deprived parts of the country have the largest number of families affected by George Osborne’s proposals, while in more affluent places there are far fewer families who stand to lose out.

The worst affected areas in Northern Ireland are the Upper Bann (6,800 families affected), West Belfast (6,200 families affected) and Newry and Armagh (6,200 families affected).

Commenting on the research UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Many of the thousands of families in Northern Ireland who will be the victims of the Chancellor’s cruel tax credits snatch and grab still have no idea that they are going to lose out next year.

“When they start receiving letters in the post from HMRC just before Christmas, it will mean chaos for family finances.

“Tax credits are a lifeline for families In Northern Ireland.”