Sir: You, like others, have found that universal benefits are easier to attack than to identify. In particular, child benefit is universal but not a universal benefit. It is also a commuted version of the old child tax allowance. It is the only recognition in our taxation system of the considerable costs of bringing up children, and if it were replaced it would have to be replaced by a child tax allowance that would be much worse targeted.
On the other hand, you are right about the savage marginal rates of tax affecting those who come off benefit systems as a solution to this problem. This is Liberal Democrat policy, and we welcome your support for it.
House of Lords
The writer is Liberal Democrat spokesman on social security in the Lords.