Ministers put child benefit on savings agenda
Saturday 15 April 1995
Chief Political Correspondent
Deep cuts in child benefit were discussed at a seminar with Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, ministerial sources confirmed yesterday.
The seminar at Chevening - a government grace and favour residence in Kent - considered a proposal to limit child benefit to the first child of any family but was "not discussed with enthusiasm", the sources said.
The idea, borrowed from the United States, would be to provide a disincentive to poorer families to have more children. But it would be seen as an attack on the worst off in society.
Mr Lilley has substantially increased his standing in the Cabinet by his caution in cutting the social security budget. But he is being pressed to come up with radical proposals for the Tory manifesto to match Labour's new-found zeal for change.
He does not wish to be outdone by Labour's social justice commission, which urged the leadership to consider taxing child benefit and targeting increases in the state pension at the worst-off pensioners.
Mr Lilley has told a policy group preparing proposals on social security for the Tory manifesto to review all parts of the social security budget, including past commitments to maintain child benefit as a universal benefit regardless of income.
Targeting child benefit is one of the most common demands around "middle- class supper parties", said one senior minister. However, Mr Lilley, in spite of his radical Thatcherite reputation, is reluctant to change the policy, which would be highly controversial.
He has already rejected taxing child benefit because it would mean abolishing independent taxation for men and women. But the group will study options including limiting it to children under five.
Mr Lilley is determined not to offer hostages to fortune to Labour in the manifesto by announcing detailed cuts in advance of the election.
The broad policy will be to constrain the growth in social security, as he outlined in a Social Market Foundation lecture, including the introduction of more locally determined payments, particularly those which are housing- related.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Tommy Ramone dies: Last surviving founder and drummer seminal punk band The Ramones dies aged 62
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...