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Should benefits be capped for large families

should benefits be capped for large families

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Austerity measures are not only here to stay under the coalition government but are set to continue with major cuts to the welfare state widely expected. Chancellor George Osborne has previously stated that he expects the measures to last at least until 2018, with a further £25billion of cuts needed after the next election. Which leads to the question of how these savings might be achieved.

Capped benefits

It has been suggested, by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith among others, that benefits should be capped for larger families. Proposals previously put forward by Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi included extra benefits only being paid for two children in each family, meaning parents wouldn’t be able to claim for any other children they brought into the world. While admitting that this would save the government a significant amount, Iain Duncan Smith claimed a move such as this wouldn’t be about the money. Rather it would be a matter of “principles and fairness”. However, Prime Minister David Cameron has already ruled out the idea with a spokesperson for No. 10 clarifying: “This is not Government policy and is not supported by the Prime Minister.“

Policy Exchange report

However, since then a report by Policy Exchange has suggested that Child Benefit should be capped at four children. This move would save the government £1billion over each parliament. The think tank, whose report was published last month, argues that the first child is the most expensive with following children not costing parents quite so much. With this in mind, Policy Exchange recommended that Child Benefit rates should continue to rise at 1% for the first and third children and 2% for the second, with payments for the fourth child remaining at next year’s level. Under the proposals parents would not be entitled to claim Child Benefit for fifth and subsequent children born after April 2016.

Public Support

should benefits be capped for large familiesPolicy Exchange, which was set up by a group of MPs including Michael Gove and Nick Boles, says that the move has widespread support. A YouGov poll commissioned by the think tank showed that two-thirds of people who took part were in favour of capping Child Benefit to four children. The author of the report, Steve Hughes, commented: “The chancellor has suggested that annual welfare savings of £12bn will have to be found to avoid further and faster cuts to departmental budgets. Choosing where this money comes from is not easy, but with such high levels of public support, capping child benefit at four children and redesigning payment levels offers a very real opportunity to generate some much needed savings in the fairest way possible.”

Likelihood of it happening

Policy Exchange is an independent think tank whose mission is “to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy”. Previous recommendations made by the group that have become government policy include free schools, the pupil premium and directly elected police commissioners.

So while decisions have yet to be made about whether or not a cap on Child Benefit will come into place, the government is certainly likely to take the think tank’s recommendations into account when choosing where to make cuts to the welfare budget.



One Response to “Should benefits be capped for large families”

  1. Nicola Jones

    I feel that if you can’t afford to have children you shouldn’t have them! Cut the benefits. Me and my husband work hard to provide for our little family.


About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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