Coffee House

Osborne mulling child benefit u-turn

30 September 2011

Eric Pickles makes no bones that his bin policy is aimed at Middle Britain, and the Tories may soon announce more measures to butter up that vital electoral
constituency. The Times reports (£) that Cameron and Osborne are seriously considering a u-turn on their
controversial cut to child benefits over families in which parent earns more than £42,475, which is due to be introduced in January 2013.

George Osborne apparently never does anything unless it yields a political dividend and this is an intriguing development, if it materialises. It reiterates that the Tories know they have a woman
problem; identified by Melanie McDonagh in a magazine cover piece earlier this summer. It also implies that the
government accepts the economy is likely to remain stagnant for the foreseeable future. Part of the logic of introducing the change in 2013 was presumably that the economy would have recovered by
then, so affluent people whose wages were probably increasing might not notice the cut. It was a good way of cutting without hurting. The u-turn suggests that the government appears to want people
to have spending money in their pockets. Allegra Stratton reports that further
announcements on benefits are expected at this week’s conference; it will be interesting to see what they entail.

Finally, the Times’ story keys into the indications that the government recognises the cost of living as a pressing political concern – and one on that Ed Miliband has exploited with some
success. It opens the possibility of further minor initiatives to limit increases in fuel duty, council tax and so forth.

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Show comments
  • EFT

    No wonder you’re a low earner.

  • Janes

    EFT it is contributions such as yours which make Coffeehouse boards such a delight. It is difficult to equate “the politics of envy” with encouragement to the government to stick to it’s guns and incur public expenditure on the basis of need .Higher rate tax payers do not need child benefit to support their children and if their votes are conditional on what benefits they can get from the state they are not in fact likely to vote Conservative anyway.

  • TomTom

    “Cynic : “Why are we paying people to breed?”

    WRONG ! You are rewarding some people financially “to breed” but punishing others who are being forced to pay someone else to have children and forced to work to pay the bills for State Interventionism in family life.

  • Nigel Molestrangler

    Cynic : “Why are we paying people to breed?”

    A population that doesn’t breed at more than replacement rate is a population on the road to extinction. We stopped breeding properly in the 60s and 70s, and the result is immigration.

  • EFT

    Janes – and you manage all that with a chip that size on your shoulders, amazing. Why do you generalise so unpleasantly about “stay at home” mothers as if somehow that decision defines a type of character? Sounds like the politics of envy runs deep in you.

    My point about Romanian Big Issue sellers is a specific one, designed to highlight the unfairness of removing benefits from people who have paid into the system while continuing to hand it over to economic migrants who patently haven’t paid into it. This may have been fine in days of plenty (it wasn’t actually) but it is absurd now – politically and socially, it is toxic.

    As it happens, contrary to your judgemental and obnoxious assumptions my wife does not keep tabs on it, instead her sympathetic instincts usually result in her buying a copy of the Big Issue off them, despite the fact I ask her not to (the money gets corraled by the minibus driver, I have seen this).

  • Janes

    As a lower rate tax payer who has 3 children and managed to always pursue paid work,run a charity for disabled children for which I can rarely get those stay at home mums to contribute in time or money and whose children are not yet delinquent, I deeply resent any money paid by the state to high rate tax payers who want their wives at home to keep tabs on Eastern European newspaper vendors.Please Dave and George take note and have a bit of backbone.

  • AuldCurmudgeon

    Perhaps Osborne’s real problem is that the economy is about to tank appalingly and he can’t blame it on Gordon anymore.

    What goes around, comes around. I guess it’s plan B for Balls, after all.

  • Cynic

    If the government were serious about tackling “climate change” (or whatever the incarnation is lately), instead of robbing us with green taxes they would abolish child benefit for more than two children. Why are we paying people to breed?

  • Baron

    Eric Pickles’s bin policy aimed at Middle Britain, hmm. Can it get any better?

  • William’s Blakes Ghost

    Small mercies they may be but they are meaningless unless Osborne castrates loony Huhne’s insane energy policies…….

  • EFT

    As a high rate taxpayer(just) whose wife gave up work to bring up our young children I am outraged by this. I demand that the government continues to give my taxes instead to the minibus delivered teams of Romanian Big Issue sellers who have established themselves in my region. (I keep mentioning this phenomenon and it keeps getting censored by the moderators. Not sure why).

    To be serious, (because I know that believing that the prospect of anyone actually stopping us pissing money up the EU wall is a joke) this is about the only measure that would make me and my wife reconsider our decision to abstain from voting.

  • Heartless Perry

    David – check your writing! – do you mean parent or parents?

    Lots of difference!

    Many decent kids are TRYING to raise a family in the traditional way – one where parents WORK to support their children – not sponge off the State as of right.

    More importantly the parents are MARRIED, – not this slip-shod shacking-up ! You know this archaic concept of fidelity, – working through things together, – not the bien pensant stuff about ‘relationship’ and all the other b*llocks so beloved of the chatterati.

  • RKing

    Ah but didn’t it make us feel good when he announced it!!

    And no doubt we are going to get a whole raft of these draconian cuts at the conference plus of cause the tough measures they are going to take against the bullies of europe, after all who do they think they are?
    Then the whole nation will rise and support our great leaders who are taking us in the right direction……….. just what we voters want to hear and we will pledge our undying support for them while singing Rule Britannia!!!

    BUT as with the benefits cut they will never happen.

    Perhaps another war will help them? Yea why not announce another war Dave we can afford it surely!!!!!

  • oldtimer

    They do not need “minor initiatives” on fuel duty, they need a major initiative to sweep away the whole gamut of legislation that is needlessly pushing up the price of energy – notably the Great Windfarm Swindle.

  • TomTom

    Can we all have benefits to cope with the cost of living ? It seems Savers are screwed, non-bankers are extorted in interest charges, but bebefit recipients are to be protected.

    This island is run by crackpots who seem intent on ruining us all to save their beloved bankers. What about looking at Council Tax and the scam of evading the freeze by charging excessive sums for Liability Orders ? A lot of people cannot pay Council Tax because they don’t have the money after paying Green Taxes on energy.

  • Hugo Chav


    This is like watching the orchestra playing on the Titanic.

    There is a Mega Crash coming to Britain.

    Anthony Hilton in today’s Standard has a good piece on a speech by Jon Moulton, the no nonsense businessman.

    The econo-politico elite know only how to print money and pray.

    The Speccie should do a survival guide to the Mega Crash.

    The more the public are mentally ready for this Event Horizon the better it will be for our country.

  • alexsandr

    if they want to cut the cost of living get rid of the silly green subsidies in all our fuel bills.

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