When I heard on the radio this morning that George Osborne was removing child benefit from high earners, I winced, thinking that the £1,000 per year to be taken away would be a bit of a blow to those on salaries over £44,000. As his mantra goes, "we're all in this together", so it may be a price worth paying in order to reduce Britain's budget deficit.Hugely painful? For whom? People on £44k a year and above? Do me a favour. They are rich.
But when I later discovered that benefits would be cut for all children, not just the first, I realised that this would be both hugely painful – and go against all that the Tories claim to support.
Julia's post is an excellent demolition job on this piece of exhibition-grade Islington whingeing, and I can't say anything better than she already has, so I won't go over that ground again. All I will say is that the comments in the Garundia are mostly anti, and for the reasons you would expect.
Some may believe that, to a high earner, child benefit is a luxury.Yes ....
You see, Harker has five children, so he will be hit hard by this.
Children are hugely expensive – and child benefit is the state's way of acknowledging the financial hit to parents, and making a small contribution to offset it. For larger families, costs such as clothes and food multiply. It costs £240 per term for my three older children to travel to senior school, for example. And even little things like swimming classes, football practice and music lessons all mount up when multiplied: not to mention the "luxuries" like eating out (one family meal at McDonald's: £20), or the annual holiday (flights out of the question).Well, yes. Anyone who has had children will know that they are a massive drain on your finances. But then, you sort of know that when you have them. Unless Harker's offspring are the result of failed contraception, and quintuplets to boot, then he must have chosen parenthood consciously - if he felt that having children was going to be so desperately costly, why did he choose to have five? Or any at all?
Here's the thinking, in the comments: Tweebuffelsmeteen writes:
If you want to have 5 children .... look after them yourself. It is not up to me to look after them for you.To which Upnorthkid replies:
Yeah it is. It's called society. Or it was till that duo of millionaire wreckers hijacked our nation.Apart from the fact that the 'millionnaire wreckers' were elected by the voters, which makes this a new definition of 'hijack' that I wasn't aware of, this is the Left's thinking in a nutshell. We are a 'society', and therefore everything is everyone else's responsibility. I have children - you pay for them. I want a job as a community mime artist - you owe me a salary. I don't feel like working - you owe me a plasma TV and a Playstation.
I can see the logic of the taxation system supporting people who are struggling to bring up their kids. No-one wants to see children going hungry because their parents are on the minimum wage. I can even see the point of paying the support in cash to the mother (the old Child Tax Allowance nearly always went to the father in the form of a lower tax code, and of course it all went on booze and fancy women, you know what men are like, har har). But why was this ever a universal benefit? Why does a woman/man earning £150,000 get a gift of a grand a year per child, paid for by, in many cases, people who are earning a tenth of that? Harker whinges on that he finds it hard to keep his head above water, but some people need the Child Benefit so little that they have been able to save it over the child's entire lifetime to give the kids a legacy of £16,000 when they reach 16, to do with as they wish. Read this and weep.
I'm sorry, Mr Harker, but someone on £44,000 is not struggling on the breadline. The average salary in the UK is half that. I know people (clever people, doing proper jobs) who are lucky to get £18,000. The most I have ever earned in a year was £25,000, and that seemed like a lot to me. So please forgive me if I don't sob in sympathy with well-rewarded journalists who are going to find it difficult to afford the second pony for the middle daughter or the third mini-break in the Seychelles because Tuscany is sooooo crowded this time of year, dahling.
If you can't afford kids, don't have them. and that applies to Guardian journalists as much as it applies to the benefit breeders on sink estates.
Here's an idea: let the Government make a statement that, from 7 July next year, Child Benefit will be paid only in respect of the first child and no others, and will not be paid at all to anyone earning more than the average wage. That's fair: any children already in the pipeline will be supported under the present system. But, from tonight, if you fancy getting fruity, you'll be the one who pays for it.
You can just hear it now - "It's so unfair!"