I’m not sure how I feel about higher rate taxpayers losing Child Benefit in general. As a believer in Citizens Income, universal benefit is a good thing. However, the people complaining that a household income of £44,000 (the lowest possible – this would be for a single-income household) is “just getting by”, as someone on BBC Radio 4 news did earlier today, are wrong. It’s twice the national average income, therefore, logically, the average two-income household earns only that much. And they’re insulting the millions of families who get by on far less. Mine, for a start, and we do far better than “get by”.
However, what I’m sure of is that this is an attack on women, and on the way the welfare state can seek to support their empowerment.
It was a big deal when it was decided that CB would, by default, be paid to the child’s mother. It was, probably, the biggest single act of redistribution of income within households that the welfare state has ever achieved. Now, CB will be withdrawn based on household income, and not paid to women who, as non-employed mothers, have no other income in their own name. That is a regression, a typically Tory acceptance of the traditional macro-economic view that everyone in a household has equal access to the household’s money. That is not true. There are many men who control their female partners by controlling their access to money, and non-employed mothers are among the most vulnerable. (And there are people in all other gender combinations of relationships in the same position, but typically it’s the former.)
So the Tories have decided that child benefit does not belong to the mother by default, but to the household. A backward step for mothers. We need to watch this government like a hawk: they do not understand gender, and they do not care to improve their understanding.
This is just a quickie post – also have a look at Caroline Crampton in the New Statesman on the implications for the National Insurance gap for stay-at-home parents