The government's plans to cut tax credits will face their fiercest opposition yet today as peers consider killing the reforms.
The House of Lords is set to debate and vote on four amendments this afternoon to the proposed cuts to in-work benefits, including a “fatal motion” which could stop the cuts altogether but trigger a constitutional crisis over peers' influence.
The other three are:
- An amendment put forward by Baroness Meacher, seeks to prevent consideration of the bill until a report has been published considering the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysis of the impact of the cuts.
- A different proposal, put forward by Labour peer Baroness Hollis, looks to delay the implementation of tax credit cuts until there is "full transitional protection for a minimum of three years" for those who currently receive tax credits.
- And the final amendment, put forward by the bishop of Portsmouth, is a so-called motion of regret, which would call on the government to consult further on the cuts but would not stop them from going into effect.
The government has come under mounting pressure from both the right and the left to U-turn on the proposals, or at the very least introduce additional measures to mitigate the effects of the cuts, which new analysis out this morning says would leave two-thirds of working tax credit recipients worse off.
Cabinet minister Matthew Hancock seemed to indicate that the government would soften the blow of the cuts, telling Radio 4 this morning that chancellor George Osborne is "very much in listening mode".
The Prime Minister's spokeswoman, however, said this morning: "The policy is the policy and it is not going to change".
But she left the door open to possible further policy changes in the Autumn Statement later this year, saying: "The point that we are making is that the chancellor has a track record of delivering budgets that back working people and that benefit working people and we will be a government that continues to pursue that approach."