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'58% of Britons' oppose George Osborne's plan to cut working tax credits

Published 30/10/2015

Chancellor George Osborne's plans to slash £4.4 billion off welfare spending by cutting tax credits suffered a double defeat in the House of Lords
Chancellor George Osborne's plans to slash £4.4 billion off welfare spending by cutting tax credits suffered a double defeat in the House of Lords

A majority of Britons are opposed to George Osborne's plan to cut tax credits for working people, an opinion poll has found.

While the study found more support for cutting the size of the overall welfare bill than for not taking action to reduce the cost, the survey found 58% opposed targeting working tax credits.

The Chancellor's difficulties over the issue were highlighted in the Commons on Thursday, where 20 Tory MPs went public with their concerns about the proposals.

The plans to slash £4.4 billion off welfare spending by cutting tax credits were thrown into turmoil on Monday when the Government suffered a double defeat in the House of Lords.

The Chancellor has promised to draw up a set of revised proposals to ease the transition to the new system for those affected, which he will set out in next month's Autumn Statement.

A ComRes poll for the Daily Mail, which was carried out before the Lords vote, found 58% of those surveyed opposed cutting tax credits for people in work, while 33% supported the measure.

The study found 47% backed reducing the size of the welfare state, with 41% opposed. Some 56% opposed the idea of forcing part-time workers to seek more hours or face losing their tax credits, with 34% in favour.

A massive 90% supported raising the minimum wage to £9 an hour, with just 8% opposed. The Chancellor's National Living Wage will see the £9 mark reached by 2020.

Just 8% said the Chancellor should use cuts to tax credits as a method to reduce the deficit, with 33% supporting a tax hike for high earners, 35% calling for a reduction in foreign aid and 20% suggesting tax credits should be left untouched and the pace of deficit reduction slowed instead.

The proposed cut to tax credits splits current Conservative voters with 48% in support of the proposal and 42% opposing it, and concerns within Tory ranks were on show in the Commons.

In a sign of the unease on Tory benches in the Commons over the proposals, 18 Conservatives voted to support a backbench motion calling for mitigation of the measures, with another two acting as tellers.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland led Conservative opposition to the plans, warning that Tories with concerns would "continue to raise the issue" until their demands for mitigation of the measures were met.

Former Tory leadership contender David Davis said the cuts proposal "was a mistake" as he warned the working poor should not lose out.

He said: "The poorest, the working poor, the dependants cannot afford to lose one pound so that's the test the Government has to meet."

Treasury Minister Damian Hinds said: "The Chancellor has said he has listened to concerns and will come forward with proposals in the Autumn Statement to achieve the goal of reforming tax credits, saving the money needed to secure our economy while at the same time helping in the transition to the changes."

The ComRes poll showed the Tories' lead over Labour had been cut to five points, down from nine points in September.

The poll put the Tories down one point on 38%, Labour up three on 33% with Ukip down two on 10% and the Liberal Democrats down one on 8%.

:: ComRes interviewed 1,002 GB adults by telephone between October 23 and 25. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.

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