Sunday, 6 January 2013

Child Benefit Cuts

In Britain, every parent receives £21 child benefit and £14 for every subsequent child. This amount comes from the Tax and National Insurance that we pay, and with exception of the few big businesses we have heard about recently, everyone pays and therefore every citizen is entitled to receive their £20 a week to clothe and feed their offspring.
As from midnight, the Conservative Party ruling comes into effect that only parents on less than £50,000 can receive it, anyone earning above that amount will have the £20 reduced on a sliding scale and anyone on over £60,000 will not receive it at all, a saving of £2 billion according to the treasury.
This puts me in a a slight quandary because a part of my brain thinks that people who earn that much should not get it and taking away £20 a week from them will make no visible difference to their income but then another section of my brain thinks everyone who pays into it should get child benefit because they paid into it.
Then there is another part of my brain that thinks that people who don't have children still pay into it and they don't get anything so yes, take it away from the high earners but then a different set of grey cells think if the Government start tinkering with universal benefit such as Child Benefit, then they could start tinkering with other benefits we pay into such as the State Pension so no, leave it as it is and don't prevent anyone from receiving what is rightfully theirs.
It depends on the time of the day, what mood i am in, how much coffee i have drank and how my drive in went which determines how i feel about this move and what i have decided is how they will spend the £2 billion they will save.
If they are just going to hand it over to a bank, buy cruise missiles or use it to build nuclear power plants then i would prefer they gave it to those earning over the £50,000.
If they are going to use it to buy school text books, build a hospital or keep open some libraries then i say take it off them but that's another problem, it will just go into the big Government pot and although it will save £2 billion, it won't be fenced off for anything in particular and be used to pay off the debt which was caused by the banks so when i put it that way, the Government is taking money off the rich to give to the even richer so we won't actually see any of the £2 billion anyway.  
In conclusion, i am still split on whether it is a good thing or not so maybe the best option would be for anyone on over £50,000 to be asked to voluntarily stop receiving child benefit, that way the Government is not starting off a possible precedent of denying people money they rightfully deserve and have paid in to.


Cheezy said...

If I were you, I'd listen to the part of your brain that questions why someone on £20k and who has no children - and indeed has no plans to ever have children - should help subsidise the breeding decisions of people on twice or three times as much money. That's where the comparison to the state pension falls over. We all pay into the pension, and we all get something back. Not so with the child benefit. Some people just pay, and will never ever receive.

In my opinion, the government scaling the child benefit down to target just lower income earners should be the first step towards getting rid of it entirely. If you're responsible enough to bring a life into the world you should also be responsible enough to ensure you can provide for it without the help of other people.

Lucy said...

To twist your words, people on low incomes should not have children? What about people who could afford it at the time and then lose their jobs, should they get it? The state pension was an example of a universal benefit which should be untouchable but if the Government begins to tinker with these benefits, it is a small step to saying nobody £50,000 can receive the state pension despite them paying into it all their lives.
I understand people without children being against child benefit but to some the extra £21 a week is a much needed income so i disagree that it should be phased out because with the best will in the world, people will have children regardless of income.

Cheezy said...

"To twist your words, people on low incomes should not have children?"

Maybe they should, maybe they shouldn't. It's up to them. Many people on low incomes make prudent spending decisions meaning they can actually afford the children that they bring into the world - without relying on you and me to pay for their adorable little whelps. Good for them.

"What about people who could afford it at the time and then lose their jobs, should they get it?"

This is conceptually a very different thing: I've no problem with the unemployment benefit being pegged at different rates depending on the amount of children the recipient needs to support with it. The underlying philosophy of this support is one of need. Whereas paying working people money simply for breeding smacks of a totally different philosophy, in my opinion. And a very wrong-headed one.

"it is a small step to saying nobody £50,000 can receive the state pension"

But the pension is not a 'benefit', like child benefit is. It's a savings pot. Totally different things. There would undoubtedly be legal - as well as political - problems with trying to deny it to contributors.

Besides, the old 'slippery slope' argument rarely does it for me. You can make this same theoretical argument about thousands of things that you see certain similarities between - doesn't mean it's going to happen... My current favourite 'slippery slope' argument is posited by the fundamentalist right in the USA, who reckon that allowing gay marriage is a slippery slope towards allowing people to marry their pets and commit bestiality! In public life it's always possible to pick and choose what's good for society and what's bad. If our representatives go too far one way or the other, then we can turf them out via the ballot box.

"with the best will in the world, people will have children regardless of income"

To an extent. However, there is also powerful evidence that peoples' breeding decisions can be heavily influenced by public policy - and if the policy is a wise one, influenced in positive ways.