Welsh Tory leader urges slower tax credit cuts

Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader Welsh Conservatives

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives has urged the Chancellor to 'modify' his plans to cut tax credits for working families.

Andrew RT Davies says he agrees with the principle of the plan but says the changes should be made more slowly.

He's warning that 'too many families face hitting a brick wall if this reform is not phased in.'

And he's called for a 'taper rate' to be introduced to ease the introduction of the reforms.

The plans are hugely controversial and have attracted criticism from some backbench Conservatives as well as political opponents.

As leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies is the highest-profile internal critic of the implementation of the plans if not the principle.

He explains his reasons for speaking out in an interview with me which you can watch below:

Andrew RT Davies's full statement is below:

Having announced Welsh Conservative calls for a living wage this Spring, I wholeheartedly welcome the Chancellor’s support and confirmation of a National Living Wage. What we mustn’t do is penalise families while that living wage rises. Reforming the benefits system is of paramount importance but it must be executed correctly. The principle’s right and I agree with the Chancellor’s long-term vision – but I urge him to listen to all views and modify his proposed changes to tax credits. Too many families face hitting a brick wall if this reform is not phased in. The impact will be offset by the national living wage once it rises to nine pounds in 2020 but the significant problems lie in the period in-between. Take-home pay could fall for some of our very lowest earners and I know that’s not the desired intention. We need a taper rate and I urge the Chancellor to introduce it. Tax credits are an expensive luxury that we cannot afford but – as hardworking families feel the benefits of the UK government’s support – we must get the timing right. In Wales, over 160,000 people have been taken out of income tax altogether. One million have had an income tax cut. The National Living Wage is an historic support package that will help millions. To make those positive changes work effectively, tax credit reform must be handled correctly – and change phased in.

Andrew RT Davies AM, Welsh Conservative leader

However Mr Davies has been criticised in turn. The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams says it's 'appalling' that he's only speaking out as the changes are about to be introduced.

It is appalling that Andrew Davies has waited until now to speak out on the proposed tax credit cuts which will be a hammer blow to 238,000 households in Wales. Welsh Conservative MPs had a chance in the Commons to stop these plans, but they opted not to.

Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader