Last Tuesday, Parliament voted on an obscure-sounding document called the Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015.
A lot of people will not have heard about this vote, but for millions of families this could prove to be the most important decision this Parliament takes.
That’s because the regulations passed on Tuesday reduce the amount of money which lower earners receive in tax credits.
The last Labour Government introduced tax credits as a way of topping up the pay of low earners, to make sure work always paid a decent wage.
The system helped to encourage people to work and lift working people out of poverty.
It was particularly good for people who could only work part-time, like single parents.
Now these people stand to lose hundreds of pounds – and in some cases upwards of £1,000 – as part of the Government’s welfare reforms.
For people in Shields, where nearly two thirds of families benefit from some form of tax credit, that is a huge blow.
I understand the need to get the welfare bill down.
But like my Labour colleagues and our party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn I want to do this in a fair way, by tackling the root causes of welfare spending like poverty wages and sky-high rents.
The last thing a Government should be doing is cutting tax credits, which reward hard work and so encourage people to find a job.
The Tories talk tough on welfare, but when you look at the figures it’s clear their approach isn’t working.
The Department for Work and Pensions overspent by £25 billion over the last five years, all because they never got to grips with the reasons the welfare bill was so high in the first place.
The vast majority of people receiving benefits weren’t lazy or cheating the system – they were people who couldn’t find a decent job or who couldn’t deal with the rising cost of living.
Cutting things like tax credits will only make that situation worse – not just for those families, but for the country too.
Tuesday’s vote may not have made the front pages of many newspapers, but it will have a serious impact on thousands of families in Shields.
It’s undeniable proof that the Tories are not, and never will be, on the side of working people.