Government’s tax credit snatch and grab will hit more than 2.7m working households across the UK

Tax credits are a lifeline for these families, says general secretary Dave Prentis

Government cuts to tax credits next April will leave more than 2.7 million low to middle income working families across the UK – and their 5.2 million children – significantly worse off, according to new research published today (Saturday) by UNISON.

Using official figures published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) UNISON has calculated that across the UK more than 2.7m 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 gets underway tomorrow (Sunday).

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

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.

According to the UNISON research, London has the highest number of working families (357,000) who will be hit by the tax credit changes, closely followed by the West Midlands (269,000), and Yorkshire and the Humber (255,000).

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 constituency in the country is West Ham in East London where 10,900 families will suffer as a result of the proposed tax credit cuts. The capital features heavily in the 20 worst affected places with nine constituencies, including Barking, Tottenham, Brent Central and Ilford South all registering large numbers of tax credit families.

And at the other end of the scale, Winchester, Beaconsfield, Kensington, Henley are amongst the more affluent parts of the UK where there are far fewer families relying on tax credits to top up their wages.

In cities across the UK, 65,000 families in Birmingham will see their incomes hit next April, in Leeds it will be 35,000, and in Manchester and Glasgow, 31,000 and 27,000 respectively.

Commenting on the research UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Many of the millions of families 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 these families – quite simply they are the difference between them keeping their heads above water and going under.

“The huge loss of income – of between £1,000-£3,000 a year – will have a devastating impact upon the millions of family budgets that have yet to recover from the living standards crisis. Parents, who will go without in a vain attempt to make sure their children don’t, will be forced deeper into debt.

“The government is full of praise for people who go out to work to try and provide better lives for their children. Yet these are the very people these punitive changes will hurt. It’s time for the Chancellor to admit that he’s got this one very wrong, and back down before it’s too late.”

Notes to editors

Next April the point at which tax credits start to be reduced (the threshold) will be cut from £6,420 to £3,850, and the rate at which they will be reduced (the taper) will be increased from 41p for every £1 earned above the threshold to 48p.

A family with one child earning £20,000 a year could lose £2,000 and a family with two disabled children on £32,000 a year as much as £3,000.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 7m working families in the UK with dependent children. So with 2.7m in receipt of tax credits, this means that 39 per cent, or two in every five working families with dependent children, will be affected.


Region/nation Number of working families with children claiming tax credits Number of children in working families receiving tax credits
Wales 134,700 250,600
Eastern 230,600 440,100
East Midlands 206,600 391,200
London 357,100 704,800
Northern 116,600 211,200
Northern Ireland 91,100 175,400
North West 338,100 636,700
Scotland 197,700 347,400
South East 303,200 575,500
South West 215,100 406,700
West Midlands 268900 524,300
Yorkshire and the Humber 255,400 492,900
Total  2,715,100 5,156,800

Source: HMRC child and working tax credit statistics provisional awards 2015

With many UNISON members – for example, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners, home care workers, healthcare assistants, nurses, PCSOs and street cleaners – set to be affected by the changes, the union has developed an online calculator so people can work out how the tax credit changes are likely to affect them and their families.

UNISON has also produced a map showing the numbers of families that will be affected across the UK. By clicking on each constituency people can see whether their local MP voted for or against the cuts to tax credits. UNISON is urging people whose MP voted for the cuts to write to them explaining why the changes will be so damaging.

Dave Prentis will be one of the speakers at a march and rally tomorrow (Sunday) in Manchester against the government’s austerity programme and the Trade Union Bill. No to Austerity, Yes to Workers’ Rights has been organised by the TUC to coincide with the first day of the Conservative party conference.

UNISON media contacts:

Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E:

Fatima Ayad T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E: