The participants of talk radio were seething this morning, as people complained that they will lose child benefit if they are earning over £50,000. There was one particular man on Radio Berkshire shouting at his phone about it.
I think we need to step back here. Child Benefit’s predecessor, Family Allowance was introduced in 1946. Part of the reason for this was to encourage or, at least, facilitate the repopulation of the country following the killing of the war. The government was particularly keen on people producing boys. My own family duly did their patriotic duty splendidly by producing seven children, including six of the male variant.
We’ve moved on now. The government no longer needs to encourage reproduction.
The 1946 era was such that it was decided to pay the money to mothers. These were the days when, in many families, the father was the single earner and chucked a bit of money at his wife on a Friday night to look after the kids before going down the pub to spend the rest.
Times have changed (somewhat – hopefully).
It is fair that those who earn a bit more do their patriotic duty now to help reduce the deficit.
After all, child benefit (family allowance) was originally intended to pay for those bare necessities such as food and shoes to go to school. These days, if you are earning more than £50,000, child benefit is most likely to be spent on another computer or Sky Plus top-up subscription.
* Paul Walter is a LibDem activist in Newbury, Berkshire and blogs at Liberal Burblings