According to Question Time tonight St Vince Cable made a mistake in the Chancellors' debate on Monday. Apparently he said that he wanted to stop Child Benefit to rich people, which isn't party policy what the Lib Dems want to stop is The Child Trust Fund payments for richer families.
Child Benefit is the old Family Allowance it is a benefit which pays families about £50 a month per child, and is a non means tested benefit. The Child Trust fund is a £250 one-off payment which is put into an account to encourage families and their children to build up a long term investment accounts.
I didn't notice the mistake when I listened to the debate, but as the debate was so boring I might have missed it whilst yawning!
But is scarping Family Allowance a bad idea?
To declare an interest I have two children under 16 so I get the benefit.
Family Allowance was a benefit introduced in the UK in the aftermath of the two World Wars. With two generations butchered and damned there was a danger that Britain wouldn't have a birth rate sufficient to support industrial growth in the aftermath of war. There was also the problem that many women had taken on men's jobs during the wars, and had given the aspiring working class the idea of dual incomes in order to increase their aspirations.
Universal Family Allowance was introduced in order to encourage women to get out of the workplace and make babies. At 4 shillings a week per child, when first introduced, Family Allowance was a good reason for getting out of the workforce and making babies. Even If you went down from your mother's 13 kids to the 1940's/50's average of 5 kids, the value of family allowance was (in today's money) about £260 a week – worth staying home and making babies for!
Child benefit doesn't help the poorest, because it is seen as income for the purposes of Income Support and Tax credit and is deducted from other benefit claims.
The only people who actually benefit from Child Benefit are those who are above benefit levels!
Child benefit doesn't do what it was supposed to do anymore. Many kids are given the Child Benefit as Pocket Money.
Family allowance wasn't designed as state provided pocket money for teenagers from well off families, but that is what it has become. Child Benefit served it's purpose, it did its job, but now it is an anachronistic drain on public finances – it is time it was abolished!
Perhaps Mr Cable was Freudian correct!