Child benefit change is right approach, David Cameron says


David Cameron: "This will raise £2 billion a year"

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David Cameron has said the decision to remove child benefit from better-off families is "the right approach".

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show "85% of families" would get the payments in "exactly the way they do now".

The prime minister also said the government was "absolutely right" to limit most working age benefits to a 1% rise, which will be the subject of a Commons vote on Tuesday.

Labour's Ed Balls called the child benefit changes "perverse".

Mr Cameron's comments come ahead of the coalition's mid-term review on Monday.

Changes coming into effect from Monday will see families with one parent earning more than £50,000 lose part of their child benefit.

It will be fully withdrawn where one parent earns above £60,000.

'Fundamentally fair'


If you or your partner get child benefit and either of you has an income of above £50,000 a year you may have to pay more tax from Monday.

The income that counts is confusingly called 'net-adjusted income'. In fact, it is your gross income before tax from all sources but minus pension contributions, child care vouchers, and gift aid donations.

If you live as a couple it is the higher income that is counted not your joint income.

If that income is more than £50,000, the person who earns it will have to pay a new tax called 'high income child benefit charge'. It will be collected through self-assessment and you must register with HMRC by 7 October.

If that income is £50,000 to £60,000, the charge will be less than the child benefit received on a sliding scale - at £55,000 it will be 50% of the child benefit received.

If that income is £60,000 or more, the charge will equal the child benefit received. In other words, one partner will get the child benefit but the higher earning partner will pay it all back in the new tax.

Q&A: Child benefit changes

Defending the policy, Mr Cameron said: "I'm not saying those people are rich, but I think it is right that they make a contribution.

"This will raise £2bn a year. If we don't raise that £2bn from that group of people - the better off 15% in the country - we would have to find someone else to take it from."

He added: "I think people see it as fundamentally fair that if there is someone in the household earning over £60,000 you don't get child benefit... I think it is the right approach."

Asked about government plans to cap working age benefits at 1% - including the rise in the pay of public sector workers, out-of-work benefits, and tax credits - Mr Cameron said "those are all in my view absolutely right decisions".

"We need to control public sector pay... we need to limit the growth of welfare payments overall - and that must include the tax credit system, and for those out of work it's right that their incomes aren't going up faster than people in work."

The prime minister also insisted the government was going "full steam ahead" with a packed agenda in the second half of its term.

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr Cameron made a number of major points, including:

  • He promised British voters they would be offered a "real choice" on Europe at the next election
  • On the economy, he said it was vital for a country to be able to pay its debts - maintaining "a low rate of interest" so it could borrow money cheaply
  • He said he was "absolutely determined" to overhaul the deportation system so the radical cleric Abu Qatada and others could be deported from the UK before they appeal
  • The prime minister also said he was "absolutely clear" Britain would defend the Falkland Islands in the face of mounting pressure from Argentina
  • He also confirmed he wanted to remain prime minister until 2020
'No pleasure'

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Chancellor George Osborne said he took "no great pleasure" in reducing people's benefits but that it was needed to ensure a "brighter future".

Labour's Ed Balls says that the government should tax the richest people

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told the BBC's World at One: "I have three children I've filled in the form. I totally understand and get how frustrating these things are."

Mr Balls, Labour's shadow chancellor, told Sky News the changes to child benefits were "perverse".

"It's a complete shambles," he said.

"We're going to have many many hundreds of thousands of people who will end end up filing in tax returns because they didn't realise they were supposed to apply by today not to get the child benefit.

"I've always supported a principled approach to the welfare state which we would call progressive universalism."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 520.


    You are correct in that HMRC do not work on joint incomes. However this is exactly what they are doing here, hence the controversy. How else can you explain them taking my income into account when calculating a benefit paid to my wife?

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    The effective introduction of means testing for CB seems perfectly fair to me, save that any CB should be capped at 2 children, and deductions made for every child thereafter. How can any person earning

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    DC says the child benefit cut is fair - nonsense - what would be fair is that all income earners of £60k+ were contributing, not just those with children. Easy to do (unlike the current chaos); just up the tax rate to recover the same value.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    It's possible that in some circumstances the threshold may be too low for example where there is a total incoe of £60,000 and there are quite a few children in the family to support. I definately agree that child benefits should be scrapped for families with high income, I have always felt it unessesary in the lucky position I am in, I know lots of people who never took the money for that reason

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    How about you stop beating about the bush and speak straight like for instance how many foreign familys are coming too ENGLAND for benefits such as child benefit, how about cutting this. I pay far too much tax

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    "I think 60k is too low when outgoings for WORKING families are so high."

    If you can't afford to "fund" your kids yourself, don't expect the State to subsidise your hobby - you don't HAVE TO have kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    This is a massive missed opportunity - not only is this policy basically right, child benefit should be restricted to 2 children also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    My husband earns £50k then bonuses. Our daughters nursery fees are £900 a month. We now get nothing. I currently work full time on a good salary. We have a house, a mortgage and bills and another one on the way. We need to move to a house suitable for a larger family. I think 60k is too low when outgoings for WORKING families are so high.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    Scrap child benefit altogether. This country is already over populated. What is worse is that many people have children just to get child benefit. Because they didn't want the children in the first places they ignore or mistreat them and the children grow up feral. We certainly have too many dangerous people already with paying people to breed more of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    To all you people complaining about immigrants et al "breeding like rabbits"; if/when you are old and frail - you will need three of these "rabbits" to be working and paying tax to ensure you have a viable pension!

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    @482 Voice of reason. Missing a point? The point of certain members of society fraudulently claiming CB? Having several children by several fathers? Living in better social housing than I can afford on a mortgage? Rent paid. Council tax paid. Don't think it's just the politicians and bankers that are corrupt. And remember who caused these reviews? Labour policies caused this not the Tories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.


    'If she could work and took a part time job at minimum wage and I took a £3K pay cut we'd be better off and still receive full CB.'

    A society that sees no problem taxing 'rich' individuals 50% tax on their 150K when a couple earning 149K each 'only' get taxed 40% is not going to be interested in the 'problems' of 'rich' individuals on 60K.

    Or does the politics of envy only start at 60K?

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    Why no hys on NHS scandal.

    Labour mis management and political midrange cause 1200 unnecessary deaths in just 1 trust .

    The BBC are busy trying to rewrite a history that does not envolve , Johnson , Blair et al .

    It stinks BBC and you know it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    29. ATNotts
    If you stop child benefits after the third child what happens if someone has triplets, do they only get benefits for two of those children? As for this change the way it has been put into place is completely ridiculous. As with most things in this government it is terribly thought out and will hit the middle classes hardest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    I'm with "Yoinkster" - child benefit has no place in today's society, it should be scrapped. Our children are our responsibility, we choose or not choose to have them... we should pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    As someone who does not receive benefits, it would be easy to say, scrap them all and I would guess that those advocating this on here are in the same position. CB was introduced, presumably, to ensure that money was available for the welfare of the child. Quite how much of the cash gets to the intended destination is unclear. Is this the thin end of the wedge for such payments? Ponder that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    "402. benbowlane
    Someone please explain why I as a single man with no children...should have to contribute to the upkeep of other peoples children."

    Because you don't exist in isolation, you live in and benefit from a society that needs to be fed and maintained by new members.

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    Anmer Hall in Norfolk has just been renovated at a cost of millions for the new royal baby. Benefit cuts for our children but millions for them. Britain is sick - very sick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    Will the £2bn per year raised be spent on MP's expenses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    489.Big Cat
    You obviously don't live in Aberdeen? In case it has passed you by, Our island is much bigger than the south of England. Most pensioners up here do need their fuel allownace and have PAID FOR IT by thier life-long taxes. We are being given NOTHING we haven't already paid for. And - to most pensioners £50. is beyond the dreams ov averice.


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