Cameron and Osborne defend 'wicked' cuts to child benefit

Tax rises slammed as 'nasty', but PM and Chancellor insist wealthy must sacrifice benefits

LAST UPDATED AT 15:30 ON Sun 6 Jan 2013

DAVID CAMERON has defended his decision to withdraw child benefits from better-off families as "the right approach". But the measure has been branded "nasty and wicked" by one commentator who calls it “an affront” to parents and the "unity of marriage".

Speaking on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, the Prime Minister insisted that new legislation coming into effect tomorrow would slice £2 billion off the welfare bill. He said it was right that wealthier families make a "contribution" to spending cuts, but insisted the changes would not be too disruptive because "85 per cent" of British families would continue to get a benefit. 

Under the revised system, families with one parent earning more than £50,000 a year will face paying more tax to the tune of one per cent of the benefit for every £100 earned above £50,000. If a parent earns more than £60,000 they will pay exactly the same amount of extra tax as the benefit, effectively cancelling it out.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Anne Atkins said the changes "undermine" marriage because "your husband or partner may be penalised with extra tax unless you relinquish your child benefit".

Atkins said the "most wicked" aspect of the new legislation was the way it "penalises" families in which one parent works and the other makes "the supreme sacrifice" of staying home to look after children. That’s because the charge is assessed on the parent with the highest income. So, if only one parent works and earns £52,000, the family will pay more tax, but a family with two working parents earning £50,000 each will not.

Cameron told Marr he did not think families with incomes of £60,000 or more were "rich", but it was appropriate the top 15 per cent of the nation’s wage earners made a contribution to austerity measures.

The Chancellor George Osborne personalised the issue today by saying his family is giving up its child benefit from tomorrow because the government has made a "right and fair" decision. Writing in the Mail, George Osborne says the changes are necessary to ensure his children and "everyone else’s children, have a brighter future".  · 

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