Lords tax credits vote is an important first step

The vote on tax credits is a tremendous win for ordinary people struggling to get by on low pay – but it’s only a beginning

The vote against tax credit cuts in the House of Lords is an important first step for millions of working families, including many UNISON members – and gives chancellor George Osborne a chance to think again on his plans to cut families’ budgets.

A chance he should grasp with both hands.

The government chose to try and cut tax credits through a “statutory instrument” rather than a proper parliamentary bill.

Now peers have voted to delay the cuts and to compensate those affected in full.

Across the country nearly three million low and middle income working families will be watching carefully how the government responds.

Because mothers and fathers – who are already walking a financial tightrope because money is so tight – have been having sleepless nights at the thought of losing as much as £50 a week from next April.

So the vote is good news for them – and that’s something I welcome.

I’m also proud of the part our union and our members played in campaigning on this issue.

I personally have spoke to dozens of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs on behalf of our members and will keep on doing so until we get a full victory.

And our members answered the call to speak out in public and put a human face on the government’s plans by agreeing to talk to the media about what the cuts would mean for them.

We also provided an online calculator so anyone who received tax credits – whether a UNISON member or not – could work out what the plans would cost them.

That’s been used more than 75,000 times, and also attracted good media coverage in The Guardian, the Metro and elsewhere.

I’m proud of our campaigning – because that’s what UNISON does.

We campaign for our members. We campaign on issues that affect ordinary working people. We bring about real change.

The vote on tax credits is a tremendous win for ordinary people struggling to get by on low pay.

But it’s only a beginning.

Working families will now hope the government rethinks its heartless decision to snatch so much away from so many.

And UNISON will continue the campaign for working people, our people, to get a fair reward for their work so that families don’t have to choose between heating and eating this winter – or at any other time.