As we all know political statistics are not used to illuminate, rather to obfuscate. An interesting example of which is the campaign that Unite is running about the changes to tax credits. Examples of that, well, yes it is, propaganda, are here:
Teaching assistants, social workers and other key public sector workers could lose more than £1,500 a year as a result of controversial government cuts to working tax credits, according to calculations by the public sector workers union Unison.
They also provide us with a handy little calculator here. At which point we can say two interesting things about these numbers.
Firstly, they do calculate the change in post-tax income that comes from the rise in the personal allowance. But they don't actually include it in their headline number. Which is to be expected, of course it is, but still a bit sneaky.
The second is that they're only calculating the rise in the personal allowance for this one tax year. Entirely ignoring the fact that it has risen substantially over the previous years as well. Which is distinctly sneaky.
The reason we are interested in this is of course that that large, near doubling in fact, of the personal allowance came about as a result of our shouting about it. That it's simply ridiculous that those on the minimum wage, even part time on that, should be paying income tax at all. An imposition upon their incomes that is then topped up by a hand out of tax credits. The adjustment, as we all would wish it to of course, needs to come with the personal allowance rising first, then the hand out reduced. Which is what has happened and thus we would insist that the entire process is evaluated, not just the effects in just the one year.
Finally, of course, there's the one more point. We have also been advocating that the personal allowance for national insurance payments should rise to be the same as that for income tax. And, more controversially, that this should be the same as the full year, full time, minimum wage. At which point, if this were done, the current reductions in tax credits would leave all but those in the oddest of family situations no worse and possibly better off.
That is, as we've been saying all these years, the problem is not that we don't give the poor enough money, it's that we take too much off them. We do not have wage or benefits poverty in the UK, we have tax poverty.
So, as we keep saying, if you want the working poor to have more money then stop taxing them so damn much.