David Cameron strategically evaded a question about his Government’s controversial tax credit cuts, on a total of six occasions during PMQs on Wednesday.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had a Jeremy Paxman moment when he repeatedly asked whether people would be left worse off by the cuts, after the Treasury revises the proposals. But despite pressing the question, Cameron failed to answer rationally and directly.

Corbyn also challenged Cameron regarding the persistent denial before the election from the Conservatives – including from Cameron, Michael Gove and the chief whip – that they intended to cut tax credits.

The Treasury was forced to re-examine the plans after the House of Lords twice voted down the government’s tax credit cuts, tabling amendments to delay the plans until the Government took on board new evidence about the negative impacts of the cuts, and until there was better compensation for workers who could lose an average of £1,300 a year.

In a blustering non-response to the Labour leader’s question, Cameron complained that the tax credit plans were defeated by Labour and other opposition peers in a “new alliance of the unelected and unelectable”.

Corbyn responded to an increasingly furious Prime Minister with: “This is not a constitutional crisis. This is a crisis for 3 million people.”

Jeremy Corbyn asked the Prime Minister to assure him that no one will be worse off as a result of cuts of tax credits again. Cameron responded : “Best way to make sure everyone is better off by building a stronger economy.”

Corbyn again asked: “Can he confirm they will not make anyone worse off?”

Cameron said: “He will have to be patient… we will set out our proposals in the Autumn Statement.”

Corbyn said: “People are “very concerned”… “Is he going to cut tax credits or not?”

Cameron said that: “£12 billion welfare cuts were promised in the Tory manifesto. … I’m happy to have a debate as to how we cut welfare”… “because of what happened in the other place.

“We need to reform welfare.”

The Labour leader cited the case of “Karen” who was concerned about the cuts and said “people are very worried about what’s going to happen to them”.

He said: “Following the events in the Lords on Monday evening, and the rather belated acceptance from the prime minister of the result there, can you now guarantee to the house and the wider country that nobody will be worse off next year as a result of cuts to working tax credits?”

However, the prime minister simply refused to elaborate on how the government would reduce the impact of the cuts.

“What I can guarantee is we remain committed to the vision of a high-pay, low-tax, lower welfare economy.

“We believe the way to ensure everyone is better off is keep growing our economy, keep inflation low, keep cutting people’s taxes and introduce the national living wage.

“As for our changes, the chancellor will set them out in the autumn statement.”

Corbyn continued to press Cameron for an answer several times. Cameron attempted to defend the Government’s position, arguing that “every penny we do not save” from welfare would have to be found elsewhere,” indicating that the Government clearly regards lifeline benefits to poor families as the Treasury’s “disposable income“.

He refused to acknowledge the potential impact of Tory policy on families’ income and living standards. Whether in work or not, this Government has signaled that it intends to continue with swingeing austerity cuts that target the poorest.

It’s clear that the Prime Minister doesn’t have a response for either Jeremy Corbyn or for all of those working people who are set to lose income and see a drop in their living standards, because of the tax credit cuts – many of whom may have voted Conservative at the last election, reassured by Cameron’s now broken promises.

A senior Labour spokesperson said the party regarded Cameron’s House of Lords review “as a smokescreen to cover up the real problem of tax credits”.

  • JShaw

    Anybody also notice how when Cameron went on to say about there having to be cuts elsewhere if the WTC are not cut he was quick to threaten the national security of this country by saying he would need to make more cuts to fire services, NHS and various other services which actually help people.

    He needs to wake up and realise this low-tax, high earn only works for the people who run the business. When you look at the retailers in our country they all are receiving huge subsidies yet pay their stuff disgusting rates for the hours they put in. Surely he has it all wrong doesn’t he for. If the top earners are taxed less and pay their staff less then welfare increases. Decreasing the amount you tax doesnt help those who haven’t a pot to p*ss in to start with! And lets be fair, saying you can earn an extra, what was it, £400 a year isn’t going to help anyone when energy prices rise, stealth tax is added to products under luxery items and private rents increase the moment dodgy land-lords realise there is extra money to suck out of their property.

    I need to find a little island in the middle of nowhere and row away fast lol xD

  • marc

    Cameron claims to be cutting public spending by cutting tax credits and other benefit cuts. its rubbish. he doubled the cost of HS2 in 2010 and had just increased the cost of trident by 67% which in real terms is £1 Billion extra for each percentage point.
    The last government borrowed nearly 70% of what labour took 13 years to borrow and Cameron borrowed it without a banking crisis to fix or a ten year war on terror to pay for.

    • No Bull Nonofit

      Cameron is cutting expenditure of tax payers’ money on ordinary people but increasing it on themselves. For example they are spending on agencies to provide staff for the nhs instead of nhs staff. Its about making money out of the public purse. Cameron knows that people are adversely affected by austerity and, funny enough, laws are specifically made to help his kind not pay tax. Could it be that austerity is a contrived event?