'Victory' for Christian campaigners as Osborne announces tax credit U-turn

Christian campaigners from across the political spectrum hailed a "victory" today when Chancellor George Osborne announced there would be no cuts to tax credits.

Osborne's planned reform of in-work benefits for the low paid was heavily criticised by both sides of the House of Commons including by a number of his Conservative colleagues. They were then historically defeated by House of Lords who demanded he "offer transitional protection" to those who would lose out from the cuts.

However after promising to listen to the peers and others demanding he phase in the changes rather than cutting all at once, Osborne announced today that he would scrap the cuts altogether.

"I've had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in," Osborne said in his speech to MPs. "I've listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them.

"And because I've been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether."

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne leaves the Treasury to present the Autumn Statement to Parliament earlier today.Reuters

The Chancellor said he was able to make this U-turn and still maintain his commitment to reducing the deficit because the economy was set to grow faster than previously thought, giving him more money at his disposal.

The Trussell Trust, the UK's leading foodbank charity, welcomed the decision not to implement cuts to tax credits.

"Today's decision to avoid tax credit cuts altogether is a victory for the parliamentarians, public sector workers, charities and members of the public who stood up for low income working families," said David McAuley, the Trussell Trust's chief executive.

McAuley urged the government to continue to bear in mind those on low incomes on future welfare decisions.

"Whilst we welcome this important decision on tax credits, it is essential that future policy decisions on welfare - for example on Universal Credit - also take into account the importance of ensuring that people on low incomes have enough to make ends meet.

"There are too many people facing hunger in the UK and it is vital that politicians and policy makers across all parties listen to the voices of people on low incomes to understand their needs, and then create policies that help the poorest."

The Children's Society also called it "the right decision."

"Children would have been the biggest losers had these deeply unfair cuts gone ahead and we welcome this reversal," said chief executive Matthew Reed.

CARE called the Chancellor's announcement "a victory for families." However CEO, Nola Leach also said it was a "missed opportunity."

"We are delighted that the cuts are not going to happen but this is also a missed opportunity in that cutting tax credits in tandem with the re-recognition of family responsibility in the tax system would have ensured that families did not lose out," said Leach.

CARE have long campaigned for marriage and the family to be incentivised through the tax system.

Leach continued: "We hope the Chancellor now looks more closely at advancing tax credit reform in the context of the re-recognition of family responsibility in the tax system."

Elsewhere in his spending review the Osborne protected spending on front-line police forces, allaying fears they would suffer further cuts as they have done over the last five years. Other headlines included the closure of Holloway women's prison which Osborne said would allow women to live in "more humane conditions."

The defence and overseas aid budget were also increased which Osborne said was "vital for our national security" with defence budget set to increase from £34bn to £40bn and overseas aid increased to £16.3bn.