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The first cut

Nick Robinson | 08:17 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

The talking is over. The cutting has begun. The chancellor has just announced the scrapping of child benefit for those on higher rate pay ie earning over £44,000 a year.

This on a day when his message from the conference platform is about growth and optimism - designed as a contrast to last year's chilling talk of an "age of austerity". The Tories want this week to focus on reform, not just cuts. In that respect, at least, they may be being rather optimistic.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why wait til 2012?

  • Comment number 2.

    So Nick, did Gorgeous George say how much it will cost to administer this £1bn saving? Or are the few civil servants who'll remain after the spending review supposed to work it out in their lunch hours?

    And did he explain the logic behind cutting the benefit from a family where one parent earns £55k and the other £11k, but not one where both earn £33k?

  • Comment number 3.

    @ Justin Furiated: did he explain the logic behind cutting the benefit from a family where one parent earns £55k and the other £11k, but not one where both earn £33k?

    Yes, he did, and he said that was due to administration costs.

    Perhaps you should be listening to the Today programme?

  • Comment number 4.

    About time! but perhaps not the best implementation as per #2.
    I suggest that Winter Fuel Allowance should be next on the list. I earn more than most people yet just because I am over 60 I am sent £250 every year.

  • Comment number 5.

    The notion that people earning over £40-50,000 p.a. should be the recipients of any state benefits is ludicrous.

    It is high time that this nettle has been grasped.

    I'd be happier if all 'universal benefits' were totally abolished and replaced by means testing (i.e. one gets benefits only and when one needs them).

    Nonetheless, it's a good start - and hence a reason to be optimistic.

  • Comment number 6.

    "they may be being rather optimistic." is of course a splendid understatement. Cuts R us until they impact on real people and all the 'Cathy Come Home' stories start to emerge. The unquestioned assumption is that public sector cuts inevitably mean a pound for pound or even a proportionate reduction in the deficit. There will be plenty of pain but no certainty of any gain!

  • Comment number 7.

    Fancy that, penalising the better-off with a benefits cut! Who'dathunkit?

    The Unions and their drones will no doubt be marching and demonstrating their objections to this unfair cut in living standards of the more wealthyy sections of society such as those of Union Officials on their 'Union Reform financed salaries', the poor dears.

  • Comment number 8.

    Osbourne looked gratifiying uncomfortable when he announced this on the BBC this morning - rather like a Lord of the Manor telling his scullary maid that she wouldn't be getting a Christmas Box this year.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well done the Chancellor.
    Anyone earning that type of salary shouldn't get child benefit.

  • Comment number 10.

    So those of us with one parent on 44k and the other on nothing (because we are told it is important to have one parent with the kids) will lose CB whereas 2 parents on 40k, ala 80k COMBINED income, still receive it??? How does that square with the comment that those on lower incomes should not be taxed to help those on higher?
    I know loads of couples who have a JOINT income of higher that 44k-much more than 15% of the country. And on means testing-is is not the tax credit system that does precisely what this needs? That is, it works it out on JOINT income? So why cant that be used?
    And please stop saying we are all in this together-we are not
    If there ever was an example of how this strategic review is exactly the reverse, and these polices are being worked out on the bag of a fag packet, this is it. Even George looked liked he didn't know what it fully meant on BBC Breakfast this morning-God help us all.

  • Comment number 11.

    2 perhaps Just Furiated could consult the manifesto of the party formerly known as newlabour and work out where they were going to cut spending?

    The new Dear Opposition Leader has indicated that they would have been cutting anyway and he won't be opposed to all cuts so is he opposed to this one? What is his definition of the 'squeezed middle'? He was one of the ones who squeezed them in the first place so he should find it easy to explain.

    Does the new Dear Opposition Leader oppose the cutting of child benefits to higher rate taxpayers? He said he would tell us where he would and would not oppose cuts. Now here is his first chance and he has gone strangely silent. Was he just being capricious?

    Does the Dear Opposition Leader support the 24hr strike action on the London tube? He said he thought that strike action was a last resort and he didn't want to go back to the historic union defeats of yesteryear; so where does he stand on this important issue? He has gone strangely silent. Was he just being capricious?

    Her Majesty's Loyal and capricious Opposition...and come to think of it; most of sagamix's policy suggestions on these posts from the ridiculed National Bond to all the other absurd carrot rather than stick arguments have all had one thing in common - the distinct air of ill thought through whimsy.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 12.

    I would agree that those in the higher tax bracket should loose the Child Benefit payments, it will impact on us as a family but we all have to do our part. It won't be an easy adjustment as we already go without holidays and grow 80% of our own food, but everybody has to knuckle down and realise that 52" plasmas, the latest mobile phone and holidays are luxuries, not a birthright.

  • Comment number 13.

    I await the anti-cuts lobbyists from the previous blog coming on here and decrying the abolition of 'universal' child benefits. See which equality czars earn more than £40k.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm amazed Andy Coulson hasn't stopped the politicians from repeating "we're all in this together" over and over again. It clearly isn't popular.

    This seems like a direct hit on the middle classes. Either people want children whatever the cost, and will take the not insignificant financial hit, or the number of children born in this country will fall, and we'll have to rely on immigrant labour in future.

  • Comment number 15.

    Gerogie porgie has just kissed the girls goodbye!

    Let's say that a couple has one high earner and one no so high. Now they will loose Child Benefit under these ill thought out proposals. However if the kids went with the low earner and the couple split then they would retain child benefit and would be better off.

    Hence George has constructed a reason to split as by doing so the family will be better off! DAFT!!!!

    By the way this is a prime example of cuts that cost so much to administer they save far less than envisaged - exactly that which can be expect from this load of amateurs and their supine civil servants - just wait and see the rest of the daft ideas!

  • Comment number 16.

    #15 continued

    If we have to have cuts, which we do, the best way, fairest and most efficient way is to cut the pay of all of the civil service by 20% or however much is needed. All of this tinkering just costs so much to administer it will not work.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have never understood why children should be subsidised by the taxpayer. If people wish to have children these days it is their choice. So why should the taxpayer end up with the bill without the apparent satisfactions?

    However, there is far too much tax in this country on incomes that are far too low so people do need subsidising so they can get by. This is absurd.

    If government focussed on creating full employment - it used to - and ensuring that pay was at a certain level - which it used to - then none of this would be necessary. However such a model requires a completely different economy from the one we now have: an economy which creates value. This is the real issue.

  • Comment number 18.

    Will Ed Miliband and Justine Thornton remain single to take advantage of child benefits or get married and lose them?

    Previous form in the property markets of north London suggest they will stay unmarried to avoid paying tax if they can. Doubtless he will put it down to having been glued to the TV during an episode of Countdown when it was suggestd that child benefit would be scrapped for higher earners....

    The party formery know as newlabour now known as Her Majesty's Capricious Oppostion.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 19.

    The political classes witter on about the "centre ground" of politics - they are keen to win the support of the middle class and keep them on side.

    In a society where the middle class find that their taxes keep going up, that the public services that they use are being cut back and that the cost of living continues to climb - food, fuel, electricity: the list goes on - then there will come a point where they no longer feel that there is any social justice - i.e. they aren't getting a fair share and are putting in far more than they ever get out.

    The pensions shortfall is the ticking timebomb here - the middle class face near penury in retirement as they haven't been saving and the performance of pension funds has declined markedly. Add in the serious risk of a collapse in house prices, then the middle class are facing a very hard landing indeed in 10 years' time.

    Ending universal benefits sends a clear message - that there is no "universal approach" anymore to benefits, services and charges - be it child benefit, university fees or (no doubt shortly) winter heating allowances.

    Alienating the middle classes is politically dangerous because it destroys the concensus politics of the middle ground and begins the process of polarising society into those whose only interest is in shrinking the state - and those whose only interest is in keeping it - the haves and the havenots.

    In a system which is redistributive, what real difference in a progressive tax system does it make if you pay a bit of tax here, then get a bit of support there? Money in - money out - so what?

  • Comment number 20.

    The UK is already grossly overpopulated and we should not be encouraging or subsidising parents to have large numbers of children. Therefore, child benefit should only be paid for the first two children in a family - there should be no benefit paid for the third and subsequent children. This would not only discourage irresponsible and selfish parents who have large families of five or more children, but it would also save the Government (taxpayers) a large sum of money.

  • Comment number 21.

    If you are going to cut child benefit from working families I trust there will be a similar measure to means test winter fuel allowance and free bus passes from the OAPs.

    Yet another cut / tax directed against those working whilst the generation that milked the country dry get away with it. Utterly disgraceful.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a high earner I now have no choice: I'll have to get rid of the au pair/nanny, sell the kids for experimentation, and put the wife on the streets to earn her keep - but I am not getting rid of the Lamborghini or giving up my winter skiing in St Moritz!

    Its enough to make one vote Labour.

  • Comment number 23.

    15. John_from_Hendon

    Fair point. Surely it has to be based on joint income under one roof. Almost impossible to counter those willing to avoid marriage or co-habiting to exploit the system. So means testing of some type inevitable.

    Perhaps it's best to scrap child benefits altogether and pass the savings on to a fairer tax system.

  • Comment number 24.

    The government expects to save £1bn and says that 1.2 million families will be effected. By my reckoning That's £1.26bn if they are all one child families, £2.10bn if the average is 2 children.
    Just how inefficient are the government planning to be? Or are they expecting a lot of middle-class avoidance? Or maybe they expect that far fewer families will have high incomes in the next few years?

  • Comment number 25.

    Where do they get the 'growth' idea from - are they in a world of their own?

    All the indicators suggest that just the TALK of their cuts has stiffled growth - we are yet to see what will happen when they actually start taking billions out of the economy and making people redundant.

    They need to have a look accross the Irish sea to get an idea of what happens when you make swingeing cuts to a faltering economy.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is a stupid move, as a small decrease in income could be more than offset by a gain in benefit. It will prove to be an administrative nightmare.

    It also runs contrary to the aim of merging the tax and benefit systems. This only works if there are universal benefits and higher marginal tax rates.

    So why is the government being so stupid? Simple - it's political. Like other government "reforms", it is designed to divide: By creating beggar-my-neighbour arguments, the Tories intend to undermine support for child benefit in general, then other benefits. Then there will be tax cuts for the better off, including inheritance tax. Then there will be more adverts for servants on the minimum wage.

    Welcome to the new feudalism.

  • Comment number 27.

    At 10:13am on 04 Oct 2010, Menedemus wrote:
    Yet another cut / tax directed against those working whilst the generation that milked the country dry get away with it.

    A combined household wage of £44k or above now constitutes the working class? I thought Britain's average wage was £23k? You aren't going to argue that a household living on 44 is deeply impoverished are you?

    I believe this cut will cause some deep searching amongst the more leftwardly inclined. By which I mean; searching for a way to complain about it. Vis-a-vis the above comment.

  • Comment number 28.

    I love the way that the answer seems to be to cut all civil servant's pay. Does anyone actually realise that the vast majority of civil servants have below average salaries? These kind of cuts would mean no-one at all would want to become a social worker, care worker or in fact any public sector worker. Do you really want unqualified numpties caring for your loved ones if they have to go into care?

    I agree that there should be public sector cuts, but cutting people's wages across the board is just the broad brush approach we do not need. Some of you need to read less Daily Mail.

    Council's and public sector organisations over the country are planning to/cutting hard at the moment. Sure they should have done this before, but in the boom years no-one was. We need to ensure we make sensible efficiency costs, based on thoughtful decisions.

    I support the proposed cuts in the article, although they should really go further

    I also saw that someone suggested that people are on benefits because the jobs aren't there. That's right for NOW, but the majority of those people were on benefits when the jobs WERE there. There's so many jobs out there still. Sure, they're not nice jobs, but they are jobs. Personally I'd rather work in front of a McD's fryer than collect dole money, why should we give people incentives not to look for jobs?

    Note I'm not aiming at those out of work and seeking jobs, just those who choose not to.

  • Comment number 29.

    Robin @ 11

    I do enjoy your Monday morning posts: the ones you spend the weekend drafting and polishing, full of semicolons and epiphora.

    With such a no-hoper in charge of Labour, the Tories should be riding high in the opinion polls, shouldn't they? Course they should. Wonder why they aren't.

    An interesting point of comparison would be 1997. A worn out and unpopular government had been soundly rejected by the electorate in favour of a revitalized opposition with a young and charismatic leader. A few months later, that leader was PM and his party were around thirty points ahead in the polls. Not neck and neck; thirty points ahead!

    Why doesn't the country love Cameron like it loved Blair? Once bitten, twice shy?

  • Comment number 30.

    We have three kids aged 5, 3 and 1. One of us works as a doctor, the other stays at home. We are married and one of us is a higher rate tax payer. We already lose out on one personal tax allowance.

    David Cameron promised he would not cut child benefit. This change will cost our family £2,449.20 per year, each and every year until the children go to university. £2,449.20 per year lost that we were promised would not be cut.

    If you believe this is right because you are a class warrior, remember this day as the day child benefit started its death: its value will be eroded without middle class backing.

    If you believe this is right because you think the country is overpopulated, remember that this will reduce the number of children brought up by responsible parents who work and value education - who tend to produce children who pay tax which pays for pensions and the NHS. Vicky Pollard and the Playstation-parents won't care about this.

    If you are a Tory politician, do you think bringing in this cut just before the next general election is politically wise?

    Agreed that the rich should pay their fair share. But this will hurt the working middle, not the rich. Why are trustafarians or City financiers paying 28% on their earnings, when working parents are paying 40% or 50% and now losing an additional £2,500 per year we were promised by David Cameron we would not? How can Philip Green be a government adviser when he paid no tax on a £1.2 billion dividend.

    Why penalise those who work more highly than the rich who don't?

    Why penalise those who stay at home to look after their kids?

    Thanks George! We're all in this together - NOT!

    Doing something about tax evasion/avoidance would raise far more than this. What a disgrace. If David Cameron wants to retain our votes he will need to come down on tax avoidance incredibly hard and change the tax system to reward those who work.

  • Comment number 31.

    Something to throw into the mix - Child Benefit is paid to the mother, so there will have to be some sort of check on 'family' income to decide if you're elligible for the benefit from 2012 onwards.

    So co-habiting couples with children could still receive CB as long as the mother earns less than 44k - even if the father is a high rate tax payer.

  • Comment number 32.

    It's a five year parliament. If growth and prosperity blossom then I am sure that this government will look to ease the tax burden on everyone including those who are now losing child benefit.

    We have to cut back on welfare which should be directed where this is acute need and not handed out to everyone.

    Let's reserve judgement; this government is pressing ahead with reforms across a wide spectrum of policy and we should applaud their boldness.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think that this is a shrewd move and is actually pretty fair - we all have to feel some pain and those of us on the higher rate tax can afford it. As long as the coalition is taking from all groups and hitting benefit scroungers as much as tax avoiders and squeezing the middle classes in-between then no-one can complain.
    I agree that the admin of this makes it inefficient but as a political move it shows how smart and in touch callmeDave and Nick Clegg are. It will be interesting to see what Labour say in response.

  • Comment number 34.

    Ah, possibly good news, my accountant has been on the telephone:

    He recommends that I pay my wife half my salary for the housekeeping - that is £43,000 to her and that way we can still keep the Au pair.

    The kids will still have to be sold but at least the Lamborghini and the Skiing in St Moritz are definitely safe.

  • Comment number 35.

    Re. the anomaly of two earners each making just under £44k receiving child benefit whilst a family with one earner making say £88k will not receive it.

    If you take the above example where each family has two children, the first family will pay around £15,000 in income tax and receive child benefit of around £1,700. The second family will pay around £25,000 of tax and recive no child benefit. A total difference of £11,700 at the extreme end of things.

    Now, I appreciate there is an argument that family one puts in more "effort" with two working parents. But this is not always the case with the rise of part-time work where a worker can receive a higher hourly rate but get paid less than a full-time worker.

    The figures are intersting.

  • Comment number 36.


    Past glories; I hope you enjoy them asd much as you are clearly not enjoying being Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

    Was punctuation something newlabour did away with? It wouldn't surprise me; they did away with everything else relevant and useful in the education system.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 37.

    Now we know why the politicians have decided that legitimate tax avoidance is no longer going to be legitimate and be treated the same as tax evasion ...

    They knew this draconian reduction in the prosperity of us better-off was going to be announced at the Conservative Party Conference.

    It really is almost enough to make me vote Labour and become a Champagne Socialist - at least Labour do look after us tax avoiders and the champagne would still taste just as jolly bollinger good!

  • Comment number 38.

    #17 Stanilic
    "If government focussed on creating full employment - it used to - and ensuring that pay was at a certain level - which it used to - then none of this would be necessary. However such a model requires a completely different economy from the one we now have: an economy which creates value. This is the real issue."

    This debate has been going on since the start of the 20th century and the settled view is that full employment is not possible. Where governments have tried to create millions of jobs, this has proved to be unsustainable, such as the collapse of the USSR and in a smaller way the downfall of the most recent Labour government. Talking about changing the economic model is great rhetoric but 'ensuring that pay was at a certain level' just doesn't work. Prices are set by the rules of supply and demand and it works pretty well. That's life, get over yourself.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a staunch labour voter and public sector worker I am surprised to find myself applauding the headline "HRT to lose child benefit" and amazed by the argument that wages in excess of £44,000 are "modest". Then I look at the detail....
    Parents on a single income paying 40% tax will lose benefit whereas thos with a joint income of up to £80,000 will not.... hardly fair. I echo the comments above about penalising single parents and those who choose to stay at home to raise a family.
    The benefit will be "clawed back" through the tax system and yet means testing is unfair.... surely tax returns are a forms of means testing, it also assumes everyone will be honest and open about their income whereas this is not the case. This just seems to leave the door wide open for more tax avoidance and fraud (something this government promised to tackle).
    What about parents who are on PAYE? HOw will their child benefit be "clawed back"?
    If a parent loses a job or takes a cut in income, will they have to wait a year before they can claim child benefit again?
    The devil, as they say, is in the detail. Worked out on a back of an enevelope...more like a postage stamp!

  • Comment number 40.

    Post No30 some great points.
    This is generally a good idea not to pay child benefit of fammilies that don't need it but THIS IS VERY ILL THOUGHT OUT and probably rushed for the Party conference. If they are this incompetent over introducing a new policy it doesn't bode well for the country's future!!!

    A wife who has chosen to stay at home (and doesn't claim any benefits) and look after her own children and ill parents will now be penalised if her husband earns £45000+. Though other familes can earn £80000+ and still get extra thousands in child benefit. So much for encouraging responsible family behaviour!!! Making even more money is the only goal a wife should have!!!

    Govt solution send wife back to work so state can then pay a nurse/homehelp to look after parents and get the state to help with childcare costs.

    The wife will then be takling one of the few jobs there are and there will still be some families where neither parent has a job and they are desperate for work for one of them!!

    THIS IS VERY ILL THOUGHT OUT Why are they not rushing to take on the Tax cheats? The Govt could raise FAR MORE money by tackling tax evasion.Same old story. Why do they not deal with the Bankers the real Culprits who brought our country to it's knees? They rush to tackle Welfare cheats (usually the less well off in our Country)but not Tax cheats!!! Yes sure we are all in this together say it often enough and the lower and middle classes might start to believe it. Loss of child benefit will hardly 'touch' the rich it will hurt the middle classes though.

  • Comment number 41.

    Robin @ 36

    Not revelling in past glories so much as raining on your parade. If a new government is thirty points ahead in the polls (thirty!) it is much easier to push through unpopular but necessary measures. You have votes to burn. Osborne doesn't, and must be very aware that if his cuts hurt the lowest paid, he risks reinventing the Nasty Party brand that Cameron spent years erasing; if they hurt higher rate tax-payers, he's alienating his core support. Tricky situation, politically.

  • Comment number 42.

    It is a good move. To address the deficit the Coalition needs to survive politically. The ONLY way to do that is to make good on the "we are all in this together" rhetoric. This country has a history of turning to coalitions in difficult times. But in such times everyone must (at least) be seen to make their contribution. In my view that is the narrative the Coalition will use.

    A key fissure in the Coalition is any lack of "fairness". We are going to see much debate over the meaning of fairness. Indeed the Coalition has already started by talking up the notion of inter-generational fairness.

    It seems to me that Ed Miliband has no option but to generally support this measure, saving any criticism for the detail/implementation. Indeed, if I were Ed's team I would be asking to discuss the detail/implementation with Clegg (and Georgie Porgie if necessary). The focus of any Labour suggestions (and attack) being to "improve fairness".

    That way Ed can portray himself as engaging in the "new politics" by being particularly constructive in his opposition. It may also allow Labour greater access to civil service work/resources. AND FINALLY it allows Labour to begin building bridges to the LibDems (and perhaps more importantly their supporters) based around the idea of fairness.

    It will be interesting to see just how quickly Labour can adapt to the "new politics".

  • Comment number 43.

    Well, what can be said other than, ill thought out, difficult to administer and foolish policy. I suppose it is to appease the Lib/Dems in Coalition that this dreadful policy has been introduced. So Ed Miliband may be smiling when he talks about squeezed middle classes.

    As the middle classes are taking knocks from both increased taxation and looking towards a future where pensions will be worth nothing, this again is another hit for hard working families. It would have been far better to cut all child benefit by a certain amount, pay nothing for children over 16, and nothing for any person having more than 2 children. No one should have been getting these vast weekly amounts of child benefit in the first place, just for producing extra population that Britain does not need. All this policy encourages is those who are irresponsible and have children as a form of income, to keep on doing so. Therefore the pool of responsible parents will decline as those on middle incomes have less children.

    It also ignores the obvious flaw of families earning up to 86,000 could still get child benefit if two people are working and earn under the threshold individually.

    This policy is wrong in principle and wrong in practical terms as well. This Coalition may well find it is not only the unions he will have to fight if he does much more middle class bashing.

    It is time this Coalition got down to sorting the economy out properly instead of constantly hitting those that are paying their taxes and producing the wealth for the Country. No growth will come from these actions. Cutting overseas aid and including the NHS in proper cuts may be a good place to start. Furthermore if you want to make work pay, cut benefits to a level that makes it pay.

  • Comment number 44.

    tomb123 @#27

    My dear fellow, I am taking the rise at #22.

    I think you meant your comment at #27 to refer to #21?

    Meanwhile, I must get back to working out how I can fiddle my expenses like the MPS. They can't take that amount Child Allowance away from me and not expect me to make it up somehow.

    One has such a hard time making ends meet on over £44,000 as it is!

  • Comment number 45.

    "Council's and public sector organisations over the country are planning to/cutting hard at the moment. Sure they should have done this before"...
    Public sector cuts started years ago, education budgets have been systematically cut over the last 4 years, many public bodies have had recruitment freezes for over two years and some have already achieved 15% cuts. Like the "gold plated pensions" and "over paid employees" this is another myth about the public service.

  • Comment number 46.

    Nick, The first cuts have not just started they were planned and instituted last week. I am a pensioner and receive pension credit. That means that my total income from the state pension and two very small private pensions does not reach the minimum income to support me. As from today, my pension credit has been cut from £15.64 per week to £10.94. The relief on the council tax from this pension credit has also been cut by £4 per month - making a total of £24 per month. If I was at the minimum liveable income before; what does this government think I can exist now! With the promised cuts to the winter fuel allowance and the VAT increases in January, it's going to be a cold, cold winter.

  • Comment number 47.


    well there is the clearest dividing line I have ever seen betweent he vested intersts if the party formerly known as newlabour, who spent most of their time pandering to the opinion polls, and the coalition.

    In case you haven't worked it out, the tories are not interested in a popularity contest. They have a coalition agreement to sort out the fiscal car crash inherited from those now known as Her Majety's Loyal Opposition.

    If you want to make a credible case against this, feel free. I understand your new dear leader thinks certain cuts are necessary. Which ones? He seems to have failed to secure the usual bounce in the polls and you seem to have decided to disregard all the polls suggesting David Cameron is still the most favoured prime minister and the tories still the most trusted to sort out the economy. Little Ed has a mountain to climb and you know it.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 48.

    So at least we have some clarity on the Coalition's priorities now: fairness is a much lower priority than cost-effectiveness.

  • Comment number 49.

    The whole point of being in power is that you have to make decisions. Saying 'Well, what would you do?' to the party in opposition won't get you very far. It doesn't matter what the Opposition would do; they aren't the ones being held to account.

    The Tories should know this; they had thirteen years of not being held to account. They said Yes to war in Iraq but now claim they didn't understand the question. They said Yes to Labour's spending plans but now claim they were unaffordable. They said Yes to deregulating the City but now say it should have been better regulated. The luxury of opposition, eh?

    And now, finally, they're in Government - and what question do you keep asking? What would the Opposition do?

  • Comment number 50.

    So , MP`s will devise another perk so they don`t have to pay ?

  • Comment number 51.

    How much will cost to administer? Who will be left to administer it?

    No answer about the couple both earning just under £44k (total income of £88k) being able to retain their child benefit yet a single wage family earning £ 45k will loose.

    Chris Grayling totally failed to answer this properly just mouthing the 'all in this together' platitude.

    Surely the simplest method would be to restrict child benefit to the first 3 children with some exceptions say if the the last child to qualify is a multiple natural birth and if one child died pre age 5

  • Comment number 52.

    Susan-Croft @43
    'Well, what can be said other than, ill thought out, difficult to administer and foolish policy. I suppose it is to appease the Lib/Dems in Coalition that this dreadful policy has been introduced. So Ed Miliband may be smiling when he talks about squeezed middle classes.'
    Couldn't agree more and nice to see a poster who sticks to her guns instead of the mealy mouthed diehard defenders the right who feel they must support at any cost (even common sense). Clearly this is a gimmick meant to persuade us of the fairness of the Coalitions plans. You're right, I feel, to fear that it might backfire.
    Of course, you wouldn't expect me to approve of your alternative policy. I always understood that middle income families tended to have less children anyway. To control the mating habits of the lower paid might require a word with him/her upstairs since it was ever thus.
    'It also ignores the obvious flaw of families earning up to 86,000 could still get child benefit if two people are working and earn under the threshold individually.

    This policy is wrong in principle and wrong in practical terms as well. This Coalition may well find it is not only the unions he will have to fight if he does much more middle class bashing.'
    Can't fault any of that. Speaks volumes coming from someone clearly on the right of politics.
    'It is time this Coalition got down to sorting the economy out properly instead of constantly hitting those that are paying their taxes and producing the wealth for the Country. No growth will come from these actions. Cutting overseas aid and including the NHS in proper cuts may be a good place to start. Furthermore if you want to make work pay, cut benefits to a level that makes it pay.'
    Broadly agree to most of this. Getting as many people as possible into work is very important. They pay the taxes and consume the goods that will hopefully improve our economic woes. There is of course no sane reason to ringfence overseas aid or the NHS. More window dressing from the Coalition. Health's share of GDP tripled between 1997 and 2009 and for the same reason that the Coalition wants to ringfence it - it's considered untouchable. No wonder GPs earn 6 figure salaries.
    Your final sentence is a pity since it is where we must part ways. Lowering benefits might work in a practical sense but simply wouldn't be decent or fair from my point of view. Would prefer something along the lines of cutting back tax payer subsidies to low wage paying employers. A minimum wage that needs to be topped up by the tax payer makes no sense.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm disgusted I thought we were going to see people who work hard rewarded. So what are the new rules :

    you dont work so you get child benefit
    you work for up to 39 k and you get child benefit.
    You work and pay twice as much tax as others so you dont get child benefit. How is that fair ??

    Its just like prescriptions, if you dont pay into the system they are free, if you pay into the system they charge you.


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