i Editor's Letter: Are you a Nimby?


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The Independent Online


Anyone who is not a Nimby, take a step forward. Not you, please, sir, nor you madam; stay where you are, miss. Let's be honest, we are all Nimbys, really.

For those of you that don't know, Nimby is an acronym for "Not In My Backyard", a phrase that has origins in development-related stories: don't you dare build that airport, trainline, motorway, housing estate, care home, wind-farm or giant sewage pipes anywhere near my home.

This week, the term was extended to include "financial Nimbys" – people who earn more than £50,000 a year who are resisting moves to stop them receiving child benefit. Like nearly all Nimby stories it's polarising. Most of the people it doesn't apply to believe the issue is a no-brainer. These families don't need the child benefit, so why is the state paying it to them?

Maybe some of the people criticising these middle-class earners also believe that we have to improve our airport links, our railway network, find alternative energy or modernize our antiquated Victorian sewers. Perhaps too they live in west London near Heathrow and its suggested third runway, or in Fulham near the proposed giant sewage pipe, or in the beautiful Chilterns or elsewhere in the Midlands in properties that are threatened by the route of the proposed HS2. Or near a wind farm?

A principle isn't a principle until it costs you money or perhaps some personal discomfort too. We can now see all too clearly just how wedded some middle-class people really are to the principle of austerity. Slash benefits for the unemployed? The disabled? The poorest? Absolutely vital. Slash benefits for me if I am earning over £50k? Not in my backyard!

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