PART-TIME workers in Cookstown and Magherafelt are among those who are set to lose almost £50 per week in Working Tax Credits as qualifying hours are raised from 16 to 24.
A GMB analysis of recipient families in work receiving Child Tax Credits (CTC) and Working Tax Credits in Northern Ireland shows that there were 138,900 families receiving £91.67 per week.
The figures show that 3,100 families in Cookstown receive £5,303 a year and 3,700 families in Magherafelt receive £4,747 per year in top ups.
Twenty per cent of GMB members working in retail say that they may be better off signing on the unemployment register after the tax credits changes in the last budget - around two thirds stand to lose over a quarter of their weekly income.
Under new rules from April, couples earning less than £18,000 a year have had to increase their working hours from a minimum of 16 hours a week to 24 – or lose their working tax credit of up to £3,870 per year or £74.23 per week.
Martin Hird, GMB National Organiser for Retail speaking at GMB Congress said the change in entitlement criteria for WTC cuts across the practice in the sector of not guaranteeing staff proper contracted hours and relying on a flexible response to meet peaks in demand.
“These continuing attacks on low paid hard working families are even more obscene when at the same time an out of touch government rewards the wealthiest in our society with unjustifiable tax cuts. The real impact of these changes is that work will not be worthwhile for many of the lowest paid in our society and they will be forced onto the dole - costing us all billions of pounds in extra benefits,” he added.
However, critics of Tax Credits claim able bodied adults should be able to meet the hours criteria comfortably as many couples with children work forty hour weeks.