Saturday, January 31, 2009

Labour Candidate Calls For Abolition of Child Benefit

In an article for LabourList, the Labour PPC for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, has called for Child Benefit to be merged with the tax credits system, which would effectively mean its abolition. I'm not sure how well this will go down with many of her constituents.

Despite the fact that a large number of people do not warrant the child benefit payment (they are either rich enough already or spend it on things unrelated to their children), it would be a brave political party which included a commitment to abolish it in its election manifesto.

UPDATE: John Moss has also blogged on this.


marksany said...

It would reinforce the poverty trap by increasing the amount of benefit withdrawal if a low paid job is taken. Socialist MPs are required by their ideology to refuse to believe in the poverty trap, despite the evidence furnished by their constituencies.

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

Ha, ha, ha....

Is this PPC another 'parachute job' from Labour? - She obviously has not got a clue about the social make-up of her constituency yet.

I grew-up in the Walthamstow manor and still know a lot of people around there. Being seen to effectively call for the abolition of one of the few Tax benefits that the local citizens both understand and are able to complete the Form for (especially one with the word 'Child' attached to it) will go down like a lead balloon.

The Tax Credits System is both a nightmare to apply for and disaster in terms of the Government's administration of it (if indeed you are lucky enough to get your application accepted).

Unless this and other Labour PPCs in similar constituencies have been asked by a No.10 policy unit to run this idea up the flagpole to gauge reaction (it is on LabourLost after all...), it would appear Ms. Creasey mistakenly thinks she is standing for Kensington & Chelsea, rather than Walthamstow.


hatfield girl said...

All state benefits should be universal. Those who have no need of them can have the payments clawed back by tax; and some of us don't collect entitlements of which we have no need. It's quite widespread, not grabbing everything a claim can be laid to. No poverty traps, no huge administration costs, no demeaning people forced to go cap in hand to petty government jobsworths.

New Labour wouldn't like it though, they do jobsworths and demean.

Andrew Allison said...

Hatfield Girl: All state benefits should be universal? Not with my money they shouldn't. It may well reduce administrative costs, but would cost a hell of a lot more.

Calling for the abolition of child benefit is - as Sir Humphrey and Bernard would tell Jim Hacker - courageous. I agree it is not needed by a large percentage of the population, but politically it's suicide.

marksany said...

AA, it's not just about admin costs, its about the social engineering and the creation of the poverty trap. As long as benefits are means tested, the poor will remain shackled to benefits. Which of course suits the socialist super state perfectly. Conservatives should be against means testing as it is the engine of the enslavement of the poor by the authoritarian socialist who currently rule over us.

Anonymous said...

Wot? No hat tip?

And it's Creasy - not Creasey.

And yes, FB, a sort of parachute job - All-Female selection. Please do get your colleagues to get in touch with us, we need all the help we can get.

John Moss

Bob said...

Any form of credit create bureaucracy and mistakes.

Clueless new labout fool again.

This is a tax the rich but but inefficently scheme....

Guthrum said...

All state benefits should be universal !

Abolish all State Benefits !

A safety net not a Hammock

Anonymous said...

I'm a manager of a bookies, most of my regular punters don't work. I've asked many how they can afford to spend all day in a bookies losing up to £500.00 a week.

The vast majority honestly tell me that they do well out the benefits system and that child benefit is a real winner (of course, there are a few who are admit that they go out on the rob!), all say they have no intention of looking for work.

I'm in East London not too far away from Walthamstow and I have to say that most of my punters are from a certain ethnic grouping... sad, but true.

Unknown said...

Personally, I advocate an overhaul to the whole benefits system. It was supposed to be a safety net but it's become a hammock.

IMHO, the state should fund a person's first child to a set value per week until that child is 18, and then only if they earn under a set income.

Subsequent children should be the responsibility of the parents. We'll see how many large families there are on council estates then. I was sickened to learn about the layabout couple with 8 kids sat on their backsides while the taxpayer paid them about £30k pa. That wouldn't have happened if they had to pay for all but their first child themselves, as they either wouldn't have had more children, or would have, shock horror, actually had to get jobs and support them themselves!

Keep it simple, fund the first child clearly with cash in hand or direct debit values per week, abolish tax credits and other such nonsense.

Anonymous said...

LD's & Labour are in this together!

Time to give them two fingers!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marksany said...

Carlo, this woman believes a government can eliminate poverty by giving the poor more money.

She is wrong. As long as benefits are means tested they will pull people into a benefit trap. What she is suggesting will draw more people into the trap, it won't take any people out of poverty.

A better way is more universal benefits instead of tax allowances. That way, everyone can the do some work which will improve their income. That opportunity is denied to the poor at the moment. If you don't need the benefits you get, you will be paying it back in tax.

Unknown said...

Hi Iain,

Sorry to disappoint you and John but if you actually read the article you'll see I don't say that and if anything I say the opposite, calling for more investment in the benefit and tax credit system. However, as a local Walthamstow resident of many years standing I’m more concerned with how we make sure families round here who need childcare are able to access it than trying to persuade Tory bloggers to do their homework. I guess you hope if you wilfully misinterpret the ideas I put forward you’ll be able to deflect attention from Tory plans to cut services like Surestart and the building schools for the future programme. A swing and a miss I’m afraid!

Stella Creasy

Oldrightie said...

I was always amazed too learn The Blairs' claimed child benefit. I suppose Brown et al do also. Should be for the needy and those on less than £40k a year. Was meant to encourage childbirth. Hardly necessary now, is it?

Oldrightie said...

Stella Creasy

January 31, 2009 5:37 PM

Usual talking down to us poor, ignorant Tories? What do we know about running a decent solvent country?

JuliaM said...

"..calling for more investment in the benefit and tax credit system.."

More public services? Well, I can't foresee any problem wth that, in the teeth of a recession caused by the ten-year bungling of the overpromoted cretin in No 10, can you...?

"..I’m more concerned with how we make sure families round here who need childcare are able to access it.."

Might I suggest, Stella, that instead you inform your local families that if they can't support numerous children without first clamping their lips to the public teat, they shouldn't have them...?

"..deflect attention from Tory plans to cut services like Surestart and the building schools for the future programme..."

I'm not entirely sure why you think building schools is such a prioriy, Stella?

Surely getting the ones we already have to work properly, and not simply churning out innumerate and illiterate morons who feel the world owes them a living might be a better start, no..?

Iain Dale said...

I have re-read your article and I don't think I have misinterpreted anything. You talk about merger of child benefit and ta credits. I don't see how anyone could interpret that as anything other than abolishing universal child benefit.

I lived in Walthamstow for several years, by the way. Howard Road.

Unknown said...

@Stella (Stella Creasy)

More backpeddling than a clown on a unicycle.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Ultimately, universal benefits create a state of learned helplessness. There are now benefits barons whose beer and fag money depend on it.

Time for reform which will target child poverty and dissuade spongers.

Sorry Hatters.

Mr Mr said...

Quit agree the present child benefit should be done away with.
The fact that No mainstream politician will voice the obvious , shows just how pathetic our politicians are.

Paul Lockett said...

"Ultimately, universal benefits create a state of learned helplessness"

I disagree, I think it's means tested benefits which create a state of helplessness by creating a situation where people who do help themselves can potentially end up worse off. At least you don't hear people claiming that it isn't worth them working because they'll lose their child benefit.

Unknown said...

@Paul Lockett
"At least you don't hear people claiming that it isn't worth them working because they'll lose their child benefit."

Errr, that's exactly what you hear. Time and time again.

There is a housing estate in my locality where people simply breed and live on benefits, getting a house and a living from the government. Some have even been on TV to openly brag, and say that it's not worth working for a living. Seriously.

It's why I advocate the state giving familes a set figure in handout for their first child only, and even then only for those that need it. It will totally eliminate a life on benefits through a large family as an option for these people.

The government doesn't owe anyone a living.

It's time the government stopped trying to eliminate poverty by simply giving people enough money so that they are no longer below the poverty line. People need jobs and a chance to get themselves out of poverty. They need a hand up, not a hand out.

Unknown said...

Hi Iain

We could practically have been neighbours at one time!

Let me repeat that I didn’t call for the abolition of child benefit. In fact I said we needed to extend the coverage of benefits and tax credits we offer families. That you make a presumption this means abolishing benefits speaks volumes about your agenda not mine. But then you also want to cut Surestart so I guess it’s not difficult to see why you would make that mistake. But a mistake it is, just as cutting Surestart would be - so please don’t ascribe to me your own ideas about how best to end child poverty, as they are very clearly not mine!

All the best

Stella Creasy

NameHere said...

Surely it would be wiser to drop the working tax credit for everyone*, if they work and "need money" then they shouldn't be paying any tax for sure (raise the allowance then). I can't imagine many after that would need money.

Then just limit child tax credit to the poorer.

Working tax credits make the least sense, why on earth should somebody working pay tax and then have to go cap in hand to the Government? They should just tax working people less.

Iain Dale said...

Stella, darling. You attack me for ascribing motives and policies to you and then you do the same to me.

It can only end in tears.

So let's get this straight. Do you think child benefit should continue to be paid universally in its current manner or not. If you do, why did you write that it should be merged with tax credits, which are not paid to everyone.


Confused, ex of E17

PS Leave Sure Start out of it. It's a deviation tactic and is irrelevant, although just for clarity's sake, I can't find any reference to abolishing SureStart in Tory policy documents. Another Labour scare story, peut etre?

Unsworth said...

@ Stella Creasey

What's an 'agenda'?

Unsworth said...


"I lived in Walthamstow for several years, by the way. Howard Road."

They've found the antidote, then?

Paul Lockett said...

John, as child benefit isn't means or circumstance tested, it is one of the few payments which wouldn't be lost if a parent started working.

Personally, I think the approach should be the opposite of the one that was being suggested; get rid of tax credits and if there is a need, increase child benefit.

I'd do the same with benefits for unemployment - instead of paying people for being unemployed, give everybody that payment irrespective of their status. People would no longer have to worry about ending up off worse off by working.

Unknown said...

Iain (dearheart)

I agree that universal child benefit is a good thing. I don’t want to abolish it and never have said such a thing. If you read the sentence you’ll find it talks about the “myriad of child benefit and tax credit schemes”. Overlooking the word myriad may excite Mr Moss and yourself but doesn’t tell the truth about my article or the policy ideas it proposes to tackle child poverty.

On the otherhand I’m concerned for you that you don’t appear to be upto speed with David Cameron’s stated plans for cuts to funding for Surestart as set out in the “Helping New Families” policy document published last March. I agree with you that such cuts would be a bad thing – hope you raise those concerns in your debates with your colleagues. Happy too to provide you with evidence of the impact this would have on your former stomping ground of Walthamstow.

All the best


Decorem said...

I love the word “courageous” when linked to a political idea. It seems to me that we could so with more “courageous” ideas. Whether that is what the author meant or not doesn’t really matter.

Personally, I do not believe that child benefit should be universal and this is from someone who has children and doesn’t get tax credits. I didn’t have children to get money from the state and I do not believe that I should be entitled to receive it. The problem with Government (and note I said Government not this Government even though I would prefer a Conservative victory) is the system is now so complicated, no mainstream party would propose such as scheme as they wouldn’t get voted in.

Others on this blog have said it but a plan to completely overhaul the benefits systems from top to bottom (rather than tinkering around the edges) would be courageous and very welcome.

Incidentally, another courageous policy would be to scrap the current civil service pension scheme for all new recruits into the service. I won’t hold my breath though.

Anonymous said...

Things are hotting up. Stella has responded on my blog as well

Stella Said


Sorry to disappoint- if you read Iain's blog and indeed my response to your posting on labour list you'll see quite clearly that you've misinterpreted my article.

I'm sure you didn't mean to but hopefully these comments will clarify that I don't want to abolish the universal benefit of child benefit- I do however want to abolish child poverty hence the ideas in the article.

I'm sure we'll be debating again and as I said on labourlist anytime you want to come down to Walthamstow and talk further about what we should be doing for local families you'd be very welcome to visit!

I Replied

"..our next priority should be to merge the myriad of child benefit and tax credit schemes, and in the process broaden their coverage to lift more families permanently off low incomes."

These are your words and the active word is "merge". Do you want to merge Child Benefit into Tax Credits or not? If you do, how do you square that with universal Child Benefit?

I'm a radical welfare reformer and would love to open this box and have it debated rationally and sensibly, but you are a PPC - you speak officially for your party.

Is this Labour policy or not?

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

@ John Moss

"And yes, FB, a sort of parachute job - All-Female selection. Please do get your colleagues to get in touch with us, we need all the help we can get."

Delighted to - I'm happy to argue policy with a PPC who won the position on merit, but not with one who obtained it simply on the back of a skewed Labour 'Gender Ticket'.

This suggestion by Ms. Creasy to effectively abolish Child Benefit should play nicely on the doorsteps of E17, don't you think? - I feel a leaflet drop coming on...

Unsworth said...

@ Stella Creasy

What does 'merge' mean? I wonder what it entails? Do you know?

Unknown said...

Oh i really do get fed up when Tories twist a story to suit their own needs. I've read the article and not once does she mention abolition of child benefit. It is quite clear that Stella Creasy is exploring ideas that'll lead to the poorest in our society receiving more help from the state. Is that not a good thing?? Opps I forgot you're Tories . Helping the less fortunate isn't your bag!

Martin said...

I don't see why anyone should be paid to breed. if you wants kids,pay for them yourselves.

The Grim Reaper said...

You're right, Iain. It would be a brave political party to put this in a manifesto.

Hence why your beloved Tories wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

Old Holborn said...

Kerry McCarthy MP is having a real crisis

She doesn't want to be New Labour anymore


Who can blame her? Invite her for a coffee Iain

The Grim Reaper said...

Old Holborn, do the Tory Party really need another third-rate MP on their side?

Old Holborn said...

I'm with Guthrum

You want benefits?

Insure yourself then.

Want kids?

Pay for them then.

Oh wait. I can do ANYTHING! Someone else is paying!

The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is just a matter of time.

Old Holborn said...

Grim Reaper

I've told you before. Tidy your room, finish your homework and BED. It's LATE.

The Grim Reaper said...

Aww, is Old Holborn gonna threaten to close his blog if I don't go to bed?

Martin S said...

In which Labour goes mad and starts gnawing on its own feet whilst shouting: "Ooh! This is tasty!"

mv = messag

A truncated message? Perhaps.

BTW, I know five families who were on Tax Credits. All five were told they had been overpaid, and all ended up paying MORE back than they actually received in Tax Credits.

Thanks to G. Brown inventing a ridiculously complex Tax and Tax Credit system.

One reason for combining Child Allowance with Tax Credits is because the latter is now so utterly discredited that many people will be too worried of getting massive bills to bother to apply.

Dick the Prick said...

I dunno but benefits need to be incentivised. I used to have responsibility for Shannon Matthews' estate - 7 kids, 5X fathers = more cash, yet not enough? I've not weighed in until now and don't know enough and almost care less but at no objective level can benefits be seen to be working.

Anonymous said...

Dick, would you get in touch with me?

Anonymous said...

I have now spent some time researching this and there is only one logical conclusion.

Merging Child Benefit into Tax Credits, (of which I believe there are two - Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit - hardly a "myriad"), would mean the end of Child Benefit payments for those who do not receive, (or don't apply for), Tax Credits.

Either Stella did not realise the implications of what she wrote - which is a hanging offence for a PPC - or she did and is indeed calling for this to happen.

Which is it Stella?

neil craig said...

It is not exactly a well thought out article but it is certainly not calling for abolition of the child benefit money (rather the reverse) but only to streamline the system by making them part of the normal tax system. Tories have often, correctly, lamented the degree of overlap, duplication & needless complexity in the tax system & benefits system. I think Iain is being mischevious.

OBC News said...

Completely the wrong target; it's the tax credits 'system' (haha) that should (must?) be abolished.

@Stella : cut/abolish the SureStart programme? In our dreams; sadly it is not Tory policy.