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Tax credit cuts: Boris Johnson urges moves to ‘mitigate and palliate’ impact

39London mayor hardens criticism of way cuts will be rolled out, putting him at odds with Tory leadership rival George Osborne

Boris Johnson used his speech at the Conservative party conference to call for greater protection for the lowest earners in a veiled warning to George
Boris Johnson has hardened his criticism of the way the Conservative government is cutting tax credits, saying everything possible must be done to “mitigate and palliate” the loss of up to £1,300 a year for millions of families.
The London mayor’s decision to speak out against the way the cuts are being implemented puts him at odds with the chancellor, George Osborne, who is a potential rival for the Tory leadership once David Cameron steps down.
Johnson had used his party conference speech on Tuesday to call for greater protection for the lowest earners in a veiled warning to Osborne about the tax credit cuts.

However, he went even further in an interview on LBC radio on Wednesday by revealing that he had asked City Hall staff to present the government with a study on the impact of the cuts on Londoners.
He said he also wanted to see the tax credit cuts coincide with the introduction of the “national living wage”, which Osborne has claimed will offset much of the lost money.
Asked by a caller how the cuts could be justified when previous benefit reforms had driven people to food banks and even suicide, Johnson said: “I completely understand where you are coming from. We have got to make sure as we reform welfare and the tax system that people on the lowest incomes are not hit by these cuts.”
But he added: “In an ideal world, what we would be doing now is orchestrating the tax credit withdrawal so it goes in step with the increases in wages. I will be totally honest with you, I think we need to work on it, and we need to express to people much more clearly how increases in their income, benefits from childcare, cuts in taxation work.
“I’m asking my guys in City Hall to look at all the impacts in London and to see what we can do about making some proposals to government about it.”
He added that concerns had been “very, very powerfully raised about this and I think we need to be explaining and doing everything to mitigate and palliate the impact”.

The House of Commons has approved the cuts to tax credits, with only a handful of Conservatives rebelling against the measures. However, there is unease among many Tories about the sheer number of low earners affected and the fact they will find out about the impact just before Christmas.
The prime minister had insisted on Sunday that people would not be worse off, while the chancellor claimed on Monday that a typical family with parents working full-time on the minimum wage would be £2,000 better off as a result of a host of changes, including wage increases.
But the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Resolution Foundation say the welfare cuts in Osborne’s summer budget would leave some of Britain’s poorest families up to £1,300 a year out of pocket. Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, has said it is “arithmetically impossible” for workers not to lose out from the cuts.