Plan to cut child benefit 'fair'

 

Chancellor George Osborne today insisted that it was "fair" to ask
high-income families to share the burden of cutting Britain's debt by
removing their child benefit.

The Chancellor was challenged in the Commons by his Labour shadow Ed Balls, who said the plan would create a situation where a two-income family earning £84,000 will receive the benefit while a single-earner family on £43,000 will not.

The exchange came as speculation raged over whether Mr Osborne will use his Budget to water down the child benefit plan or to reduce the 50p income tax rate on earnings over £150,000.

Business Secretary Vince Cable today said there was an "understanding" within Government that if the 50p rate was scrapped, it would be replaced with a levy on wealth, such as the mansion tax favoured by Liberal Democrats.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband said that, while the Government should look at proposals for a tax on valuable homes, scrapping the 50p rate would be "absolutely the wrong thing to do".

Mr Osborne declined to reveal details of his Budget in his final appearance at Treasury questions in the Commons before the March 21 statement, telling MPs only that there would be no "unfunded giveaways".

Challenged over his plan - announced in 2010 - to remove child benefit from those earning over £42,745 a year from January 2013, Mr Osborne responded: "I think it is fair to ask those in the top 15% of the income distribution to make a contribution to the fiscal consolidation."

But the shadow chancellor told him that he could not "do the right thing" on child benefit because his economic policies had failed to deliver the growth he had been hoping for.

"The Chancellor's policy on child benefit seems to be that a two-earner family on £84,000 can keep all their child benefit, but a one earner family on £43,000 - whether a single-parent or where mum or dad stays home to look after the kids - will lose all their benefit," said Mr Balls. "What's fair about that?"

And Labour Treasury spokeswoman Rachel Reeves asked whether a single mother with three children on £42,000 should turn down a £1,000 pay rise which would cost her about £2,500 in lost child benefit under the new arrangements.

Meanwhile, there were growing signs of unrest on the Conservative backbenches over child benefit.

David Ruffley, a Tory member of the Treasury Select Committee, told the BBC he might vote against the plan, saying: "The child benefit proposal was flawed and I think the Chancellor needs to look at it again. It is an unsustainable proposal as he set it out."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday fuelled speculation that the child benefit cut-off could be raised to £50,000 or more, by admitting that the current plan created "anomalies" because it applies if one parent enters the 40% tax band, regardless of what the total household income is.

Today, Mr Cable confirmed that "a complex set of negotiations" on the future shape of the tax system were under way within Government ahead of the Budget.

Liberal Democrats were "not ideologically wedded" to the 50p rate, but were insistent that if it was scrapped it should be replaced by some form of wealth tax - whether a "mansion tax" on expensive homes or an extension of local taxes on property - to recoup more money from the super-rich.

The Business Secretary told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "There is a broad understanding... that if the 50p rate were to go - and I and my colleagues are not ideologically wedded to the 50p tax rate - it should be replaced by taxation of wealth because the wealthy people of the country have got to pay their share, particularly at a time of economic difficulty.

"How exactly that is configured is a detailed matter for negotiation but that principle must be upheld. Mansion tax actually is a very economically sensible way of doing it, but there are different ways of approaching it.

"There are different ways of doing it. It can be done through local government as well as central government, providing the principle is accepted that taxation should be related to the value of property."

The current system of taxes on property "doesn't work", said Mr Cable, adding: "There are vast numbers of extraordinarily valuable properties now around in the south of England netting very large gains for their owners - many of whom come from abroad incidentally - and it's not taxed at all. You get people with multi-million pound properties paying exactly the same council tax as someone in a semi."

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "I absolutely think it would be the wrong thing to do to cut the 50p tax rate."

Asked about the mansion tax proposal, he added: "I think it's an idea that the Government should look at but it shouldn't be used as an excuse for cutting the 50p tax rate."

PA

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

C# Web Developer (C#, MS Dynamics CRM, SQL, SQl Server) London

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Oracle developer- (Oracle, PL/SQL, UNIX/LINUX) - Trade- London

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering