PM defends tax credits time limit
David Cameron has been forced to defend the Government's plan to make parents work longer before they can receive tax credits.
The Prime Minister said the move to increase the weekly hours requirement to qualify from 16 to 24 hours for couples was fair, but Ed Miliband accused him of breaking promises.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mr Cameron said: "We are dealing with a basic unfairness where we ask a single parent to work 16 hours before getting access to the tax credit system, so it's only right to say to couples that between them they should work 24 hours - ie, 12 hours each.
"If they do that they will be better off."
The Labour leader cited the example of a married delivery driver with three children from Dartford in Kent.
Mr Miliband said: "He currently works 20 hours a week. From next month, unless he works 24 hours a week, he will lose all his working tax credit - some £60 a week. He said 'I have approached my employer to possibly increase my hours, but I have been told there simply aren't the hours there. I would love to work full-time'."
Mr Miliband said the wife was unable to work because she was caring for the three children, adding: "He can't find the extra hours, he's going to lose as a result of this."
He pointed out that in the run-up to the May 2010 general election, Mr Cameron said Labour's claim that the Conservatives' plan to reform tax credits would hit low-income families was "simply not true".
Mr Miliband asked him: "Why have you broken that promise?"
But Mr Cameron hit back, blaming the "massive" budget deficit for the need to revamp the system and denied the change was "unreasonable". He added: "We have increased the child tax credit that goes to the poorest families in our country."