Josephine Warren 0

Make child benefit fair for all

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I am writing to you to express my strong objections to your proposed reforms to child benefit. I feel this is the latest line in cuts which impose a disproportionate share of the burden on middle income families. My objections to your policy to abolish benefit when one parent earns more than £44,000 are on several levels. I fully accept that cuts have to be made and that those high income households should share the burden. I also fully accept that there will also be people around the threshold who feel aggrieved. However, the anomolies in this system are so great and will affect such a large number of families that the policy is unworkable and unfair. The very fact that you can countenance a policy which allows a family with a household income of £45,000 to lose out, but a household with a joint income of £87000 to still receive the benefit is an outrage. I feel that this is a direct attack on those families who have chosen one parent to stay at home whilst the other works full time. Also, this is placing an unfair burden on those families with pre-school children, who are the most likely families to have a parent at home and for whom the option of working also raises the need for massive childcare costs. You are directly taking money from families at exactly the point that they need it most. However my main objection is that your party appear to be making one generation bear all the burden of the tax cuts, and it is this generation who already have the greatest financial burden. For middle income families with young children, who are now about to lose their child benefit, are also faced with rising VAT (and this group will wear the brunt of this rise), the withdrawal of childcare tax credits, withdrawal of maternity grants, closure of Surestart centres, withdrawal of child trust fund payments. Added to this is over inflated house prices and the knowledge that we will have to fund our children's ever spiralling University costs or force them into a lifetime of debt. This is a marked comparison with the older generation who, not only benefited from universal child benefit and free university education for their families, but also in the large part are sitting on large amounts of equity in their properties (which they bought before house price inflation took off), have most likely been able to build up a large pot of savings and possibly the security of a final salary pension and guaranteed state pension. Yet it is this group that you are making promises to, by refusing to countenance means testing state pensions or the withdrawal of the winter fuel allowances or free bus passes. This can only be an expedient policy caused by knowing where your core vote lies. So yes, please reform child benefit if you must, but any means testing must be made fair and equal across all households. The argument that this cannot be done without great cost probably means that it should not be done at all, rather than should be done in this unequal and divisive way. Furthermore, if you must withdraw benefits from families you must adopt a fair approach across the board. This means the means testing of old aged pension, to withdraw them from high rate tax payers and the removal of free bus passes and winter fuel allowance for pensioners with more than £16,000 worth of savings (the same criteria you apply to housing benefit). Thank you for taking the time to listen to my views.

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