Thursday, 7 October 2010

Child Benefit: A ‘Guardian’ Journalist Writes…

Joseph Harker and the entitlement of the chattering classes:
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.
You weren’t the only one.
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.
Oh, noes! Think of the chiiillldrreeeeen!
Child benefit is currently paid at £20.30 per week for the first child (equivalent to £1,055 per year, tax free). For each subsequent child, the mother receives £13.40 per week (£697 a year). So, for a family with three children, the mother receives £2,450 per year; for four children, £3,145; and for five children £3,840. In other words, if you're a high-rate taxpayer with three children, Osborne would take away the equivalent of over £4,000 in gross salary. And for each subsequent child it would be another £1,000 equivalent.
So? If you can’t afford to have as many dogs or cats as you want, no-one would argue that the taxpayer should fund them. Why is it different with kids?

And spare me the ‘our future workforce’ argument. Most of them aren’t working now.
Some may believe that, to a high earner, child benefit is a luxury.
But I have five children, and I know just how difficult it is to make ends meet with a larger family.
Then….don’t have one.
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).
My heart bleeds for the junior Harkers, having to forgo the swimming lessons and music appreciation that I’m paying for…
And to those living in the south of England, or in northern conurbations like Manchester, the inflated cost of housing cannot be ignored.
Then move. Hell, are you saying you couldn’t possibly post vacuous left-wing polemic to the ‘Guardian’ servers just as easily from a cheaper area?
Ironically, the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, was speaking today at a Conservative party conference fringe debate entitled: "We're going to make this the most family friendly country in Europe."

Duncan Smith has four children, so he should know the impact of the changes. But after giving his speech, in which he made no mention of them, he rushed off without taking questions. I caught up with him as he was getting into his taxi and asked his thoughts: he simply shrugged his shoulders and said that we're living in difficult times and have a huge national debt to sort out. When I pressed him he said dismissively that £44,000 is twice the national average salary, and then sped off.
I bet you aren’t on much less!
That statistic may be correct, but it doesn't mean that those on this income are swimming about in disposable income – in fact, it's likely that those with large families are barely keeping their heads above the water.
Then perhaps they shouldn’t have jumped in, rather than expecting everyone else to pay for that lifeboat?

15 comments:

chris said...

Why we are investing our child benefit into 4 businesses run by our kids… http://bit.ly/bPdstQ

Richard said...

Excellent post, Julia. My feelings exactly. How anyone, let alone a left-winger, could object to the rich giving up child benefit while low earners keep it is beyond me. And I don't know where they get the idea that 44k is struggling from. That's almost twice what I have ever earned in my life, and I've had a succession of reasonable jobs. Scratch a London Leftie and you find a whingeing child.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think the right thing would have to be to completely get rid of this thing, 9 months hence. I never quite understood the principle of taking money via taxes only to give some back via child benefit. Well, thats a lie, I understand it in the sense that it is stupid and exactly what politicians would do.

And as a further proof, if it was needed, that those people are numpties, they cannot even announce it right.

That said, I'm paying way more taxes now than 13 years ago, or even 8 years ago when I had my 1st child. So it is a bit disingenuous to say "you chose to have kids so suck it up", as the rules are changed and make it more difficult.

Blue Eyes said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Only right for a productive family with an earner who gets that sort of pay and who probably instils some positive work ethic into their children to be reduced to having less than Kelly Marshall.

Keeps it Fair

Jiks said...

Why should I pay for others lifestyle choices?

It is galling enough at the best of times, doubly so when those are getting more money than I am.

I suppose we have accept that ANY "cut" of any kind will be met with howls of protest and fought over tooth and nail. If the government were serious about saving the country from bankruptcy they would announce all the changes needed to balance the books and tell every to STFU and deal with.

As they are more interested in staying on the gravy train themselves than doing the right thing, not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Weak minded desperation, any bull shit to have a go at the Conservatives.

Foxy Brown said...

I'd love to earn the salary of a Guardian journo. I live within my means and don't expect others to pick up the tab.

Anonymous said...

Hell, I think the child benefit changes have worked to a tee...

While the Guardianistas has been working themselves into a frenzy over it, the overall cap on benefits to £26K has gone by almost unremarked; this is by far the more significant change that will affect the feckless families of ten unloved cash-cow kids....

Ross said...

I don't think I've ever seen a Harker column before now that wasn't about race.

Nigel Sedgwick said...

JuliaM writes: "So? If you can’t afford to have as many dogs or cats as you want, no-one would argue that the taxpayer should fund them. Why is it different with kids?"

And she then argues that it is not.

[Well, I'm pretty sure she did. But my irony detector has been known to be a bit intermittent in its operation. Please help me if it's gone wrong again.]

So young human beings are, for tax purposes, as important or as unimportant as pets.

They get the vote eventually (the kids that is; I hope not the pets); will they cry 'Vote for Julia'?

[Try this.]

Best regards

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

I don't read Harke since he wrote an article a few years back claiming minorities can't be racist.

He is basically a stupid c u n t

Anonymous said...

Children are big carbon footprints and hence should be despised. They are annoying in restaurants and pubs and I hate them. Quite like the grandson though.
Toynbee made a complete ass of herself on Newsnight on this one.

Giving people on large incomes benefits is rubbish, whether of this kind or restricted trading privileges as with lawyers and other professions and management.

Inspiring statements were made on these issues after WW2 and we are still, mostly, getting the vapid repeats now. Pass the child benefit Claret Julia, it may be our last. How on earth will we cope without it. I mean it's not as though the poor feel anything, so taking away their fags and white lightening won't hurt as much as us have to scale down to Australian plonk ...

Anonymous said...

wondered when you were going to jump on this Julia. Yup, giving benefits to people who earn more than £44K is insane. They probably rarely spend it on the kids. Some have claimed it unfair for single parents when couple who cumulatively earn more but are individually under the threshold still get it, answer, find a partner and/or ask your employer to lower your wage to be in reciept thus making your job more secure and not losing out financially. No-one realy earns just over £44K do they? What’s the point it would just go in tax like selling a house for £260K, there’s no point.
These people that are complaining are exactly the ones that are propped up at work because they’re shit at their job, scrounge anything and everything they can get their hands on and see no correlation between their choices and their responsibilities.
The benefits cap of £26K, bet it doesn't include housing and council tax benefit. So how any family can't survive pretty damn well on £26K with a free house is beyond me.
Fucking useless cunts some parents have become, the family destroyed just individuals inhabiting the same house with no shared interests and desperately plotting to self satisfy even if it means taking from each others mouths, a world away from pinching chips of yer dad's plate when he's not looking.
Mothers swanning around like teenagers listening to The Ting Tings on an iPod and fake tans. yummy mummy, I think not!
This country is FUCKED.

JuliaM said...

"Why we are investing our child benefit into 4 businesses run by our kids"

That's an amazing idea! If only more people took that view..

"How anyone, let alone a left-winger, could object to the rich giving up child benefit while low earners keep it is beyond me."

It's been quite an education, seeing the lengths Guardianistas will go to...

"..as the rules are changed and make it more difficult."

That's the same with everything, though - children, mortgage, business. It's not whether you can afford it NOW, but whether you can afford it LATER, if the rules change...

"I don't think I've ever seen a Harker column before now that wasn't about race."

Me neither!

"So young human beings are, for tax purposes, as important or as unimportant as pets."

That 'our future hope' thing doesn't seem to be paying off, though. Does it?

"Toynbee made a complete ass of herself on Newsnight on this one."

Excellent! She'll still get invited back, though...

"Yup, giving benefits to people who earn more than £44K is insane. They probably rarely spend it on the kids."

Some do, though. See the first comment.

But that's rare. Very rare.