STEPHEN HEPBURN: Labour Party will fight Tory attacks

Nearly 7,000 working families in the Jarrow parliamentary constituency were saved an average £1,300 a year in one of Labour’s most valuable triumphs over the callous Tory regime in London since the election.

I was proud to be among the MPs who forced Chancer of the Exchequer George Osborne to abandon unfair cuts to wage packet-topping tax credits.

You might be a grafter we protected – Boldon building workers and Hebburn shop assistants, drivers in Felling and call centre workers living in Jarrow, nurses and teaching assistants from Wardley – in hundreds of jobs, in the private sector and public services, including the council.

Or you might be on a decent whack and not need tax credits but believe that everybody’s entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Because that’s what tax credits do by boosting the wages of working people and the Labour Party earned a famous victory for all of you in South Tyneside and Gateshead and the rest of the country who put in the hours and deserve to be rewarded.

The Treasury’s own figures suggest the prize could be £9 billion extra in wage packets over the next few years and every penny will have been earned by hard work.

But never trust a Tory and I’m sorry to bring the bad news that Osborne’s planning to rob workers blind when he introduces the so-called Universal Benefit to replace other entitlements.

When he starts his seedy scam from April, workers switched from tax credits or automatically put on Universal Credit will be short-changed by the Chancer.

The sneak’s planning to do over a longer period exactly what we stopped him from doing and the Tory axeman hopes nobody notices.

Independent experts calculate 2.6 million working families will be cheated of an average £1,600 each by 2020.

So I’ve got news for Gideon Osborne – we will oppose him every step of the way.

The grinning Cheshire cat will find a lot of Labour MPs snapping at his heels.

David Cameron’s Millionaires’ Row in the House of Commons are badly out of touch.

Benefit destroyer Iain Duncan Smith, a privileged Tory chap, added insult to injury by lecturing other families to work an extra 200 hours per year.

That’s the equivalent of five full-time weeks and where does IDS think they’re going to find this work? How can a single mam with kids, paid the minimum wage, afford to do that and still look after her bairns at home?

Without those extra hours, or a change in Tory policy, that same person will be a full £3,000 a year worse off.

It’s not right or fair, especially when at the same time the Tories are cutting taxes for Cameron, Osborne, Duncan Smith and their chums.

This is a Tory Government that has left more and more proud, decent people with no choice but to turn to a foodbank’s charity.

Our local Citizens Advice Bureau informs me that referrals to foodbanks in this area have gone up by a whopping 400 per cent since 2010 – clear evidence of the devastating effect these policies are having on our community.

And the same Tory Government has left sick, disabled and vulnerable people penniless by their cruel benefit sanctions.

Lower wages, falling living standards, ripping apart our NHS and huge cuts to our public services is what we’ve endured so far but with Cameron and Co there is worse to come.

I promise you the Labour Party will stand up for working people, young and old, fit and the disabled, hard-up and doing canny.

And the Labour Party will fight tooth and nail against these Tory attacks.