UK Politics

Child benefit claimant: 'I'm being penalised for working hard'

Families where one parent earns more than £50,000 will no longer be eligible for full child benefit from Monday.

It will be fully withdrawn from those where one person earns above £60,000.

Yet families in which both parents earn just under £50,000 each will keep the benefit - which has prompted criticism.

Scott Horne from Worthing has two children and will be hit by the changes. He tells BBC News why he feels it is "unfair" to be "penalised for working hard".

'So unfair'

"My family will be affected by this because my salary is just above £50,000.

"With the overtime I do, I may end up going over the £60,000 threshold, so we will probably lose the benefit altogether.

"I'm a project manager for an IT company. My wife is on maternity leave, but due to go back to work part-time next week.

"I have two young children and we will end up losing about £2,000 a year.

For Mr Horne, putting effort into working long and unsociable hours has not helped his situation.

"The type of job I do demands a lot of weekend work. Working weekends also means I get paid a higher rate of overtime.

"This is great to get some extra money, but I feel now that I am being penalised for working hard.

"Many friends either work part-time or fewer hours than I do, and have a very high joint income.

"However, because either the husband or wife don't earn over £50,000 individually, they aren't affected by these cuts. I just find it so unfair."

'Costs too high'

Mr Horne says working fewer hours would enable his family to keep their benefit payments - but it could also stifle his career.

"I work for a company that has a flexible working policy and they have said that I would be allowed to go down to four days a week.

"This would mean that my wife could work an extra day and we could share the task of looking after the children. We'd also be able to keep the child benefit.

"However, my company have made it clear that although I would be able to do this, I would be unlikely to get a promotion over other colleagues who put the long hours in.

"We looked into nursery for our youngest child, but the costs are too high.

"Once my wife goes back to work next week, we will have to rely on family members for childcare for the days she is working.

"Quite simply, child benefit should be means-tested," adds Mr Horne.

"It should not be assessed on one individual family member alone, but on the joint income of both parents. It would be much fairer."

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