Davidson Raised 'Concerns Over Tax Credit Cuts'

27 October 2015, 10:27 | Updated: 27 October 2015, 10:29

George Osborne tried to drive through cuts to tax credits despite repeated advance warnings by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson that families north of the border faced a financial "cliff edge'', a Tory MSP has said.

Alex Johnstone, a member of Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee, said Ms Davidson raised concerns about tax credit cuts during monthly political strategy meetings with the Conservative cabinet.

Ms Davidson also raised concerns about the Chancellor's plans at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, a party spokesman confirmed.

The Chancellor has been forced to soften the blow for claimants hit by the reforms following a controversial breach of convention by the House of Lords, who backed motions to delay the cuts and provide transitional protection for claimants on Monday night.

Before the vote, Ms Davidson told the Mail On Sunday that the cuts were necessary but needed to be introduced more carefully.

"The idea that there's a cliff edge in April before the uptake in wages comes in is a real practical human problem and the Government needs to look again at it,'' she said.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnstone told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "She was concerned about that and she was the one who first raised the problem with the Chancellor from a Scottish perspective.

"I think it's important that we remember that we all need to work together the ensure that the policy applies appropriately across the country.

"With a limited representation of Scottish members of parliament in Westminster, the Chancellor perhaps didn't have that opportunity as early as he could.

"But Ruth Davidson attends (political) cabinet meetings on a monthly basis, and she took the opportunity to make sure he knew.''

He added: "I think it is time for the Chancellor to consider how he implements this policy.

"Tax credits, while they have become valuable to many people, are a failed policy as a fiscal measure and we need to stop it being a subsidy for low wages.''

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie described the tax credit cuts as "a daft idea''.

"I'm not surprised that a Tory wants to take money from poor people - that is of course what the Tories do,'' he said.

"These cuts to tax credits are unnecessary.

"They are driven solely by George Osborne and the Tory Government's intention to cut £40 billion from the current account more than is necessary to run a balanced economy.

"That's why this is ideologically driven, it's dangerous for working families and simply wrong.''