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BENEFITS REFORM: Child benefit move 'unfair'
PARENTS in Oxfordshire have condemned a plan to cut child benefits for higher earners, claiming it is unfair and will hit stay-at-home mothers.
A major criticism of the Government’s child benefit reform is that it will hit single parents and single-earner households, as the allowance will be withdrawn where any individual is earning £44,000-a-year or more.
Two-income households in which both parents each earn less than the threshold – potentially giving them a household income of more than £80,000 – will keep the benefit.
Yesterday Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron defended the plans, set to come into effect in 2013, and said any means-tested system would be bureaucratic and intrusive.
But Abingdon mother Catherine Warrilow, who writes the blog babygenie.co.uk about parenting issues, said the move was illogical.
She added the Government had broken a promise on child benefit, and parents had lost trust. Mrs Warrilow said: “This does not support the family approach we were promised.
“It does not incentivise mothers to work and penalises those who stay at home if the other parent is just above the tax threshold.
“I agree with taxing high earners but it’s families that struggle who will feel the effect of this.”
West Oxford parent Ruth Lyster said the idea of higher earners getting less was sound in principle, but criticised the way the reform would work.
She added: “If you have two earners on £43,000 you get it, but if you are one on £44,000 you don’t.”
But not everyone disagreed with the move.
Parent Kevin Dixon said: “As a higher rate taxpayer, it’s hardly fair I get child benefit when I don’t really need it.”
Mr Cameron played down the idea of introducing means testing that would take into consideration joint incomes, saying any such system would be “incredibly bureaucratic and expensive and, frankly, quite intrusive”.
He went on to suggest that there would be other measures to help stay-at-home mothers.
Conservative-controlled Oxfordshire County Council also backed the planned cuts.
Louise Chapman, the cabinet member for children, young people and families said: “Given child benefit is universal it is an area where higher tax earners could make their contribution to reducing the deficit. I fully support it.”
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