The Conservatives’ proposal for reforming tax credits has been attacked by our opponents using soundbites that ignore the overall package of measures we are putting forward.
In the Summer Budget, we offered a new deal for working people. It means the UK moving from a high-welfare, high-tax, low-wage economy to a lower-welfare, lower-tax and higher-wage one.
We don’t pretend all the decisions we have taken were easy. But the reforms we were proposing come as a single coherent plan to help rebalance the economy.
It involves a new National Living Wage, reformed tax credits and lower taxes.
It’s simply not credible to impose higher wages and leave tax credits unreformed, condemning taxpayers to ever-higher welfare bills.
And here in Northern Ireland we have the epitome of a government that ducks every tough decision, has achieved next to nothing, and is failing the people.
The alternative to making savings in welfare is cutting the health service, cutting working people’s pay by putting up taxes, or borrowing more and burdening our children with more debt.
Our opponents in the DUP, SF, UUP, SDLP and Alliance ignore the fact that taken together with all the welfare savings we proposed and our tax cuts, a typical family where someone is working full time on the minimum wage would be over £2,400 a year better off by the end of the parliament.
The Executive parties talk the talk about rebalancing the economy but the latest PWC report on the economy reveals they are failing.
PWC’s local economist, Esmond Birnie, points out: “Overall, the picture of a steady recovery in the UK economy continues and we now expect GDP growth of around 2.4 per cent for all of 2015.
“However, this is not being reflected in Northern Ireland where our forecast for growth in the local economy in 2015 would be less optimistic at 1.7 per cent declining to 1.6 per cent in 2016.”
This is a direct result of our local politicians’ failures. It is time for realistic politics rather than sound bites and an ineffectual government.
For reform, jobs and a private sector delivering a brighter future for all, back the Conservatives.
• Johnny Andrews is economics spokesman for NI Conservatives