Tory MPs respond to Philpott case by calling for new curbs on child benefit



Martin Rowson in The Guardian 4th April 2013
Martin Rowson in The Guardian 4th April 2013 


RT Elliot Folan @LeftieHamster ‘In the last few days, commentators and politicians on the political right have used dead children as political capital. Remember that.’



Those calling for child benefit to be limited to the first two offspring need to explain why children should be punished for being born into large families.


Former Conservative leadership candidate David Davis said: "there is a strong argument to restrict child benefit whether it is to two, three, or four children". Photograph: Getty Images.
Former Conservative leadership candidate David Davis said: “there is a strong argument to restrict child benefit whether it is to two, three, or four children”. Photograph: Getty Images.


Update: George Osborne has just made the link even more explicitly than his Conservative colleagues. Following Philpott’s sentencing, he said:

“It’s right we ask questions as a government, a society and as taxpayers, why we are subsidising lifestyles like these. It does need to be handled.”

It isn’t just the Daily Mail that is seeking to make political capital out of the Derby fire deaths. Conservative MPs have responded to the Philpott case by reviving calls for child benefit to be limited to two children per family. David Davis tells today’s Times that it is not “a good idea to make policy on the back of one story” but adds that “there is a strong argument to restrict child benefit whether it is to two, three, or four children.”

Bernard Jenkin adds his support (“I would support limiting child benefit for new claimants to a maximum of two children”), while Mark Reckless says: 

‘The welfare bill is far too high and it needs to come down. One measure might be to restrict child benefit by comparing the average number of children in working families to those in out-of-work families.’

In a leader, the Times also argues that:

“It is time to look again at Iain Duncan Smith’s suggestion that child benefit be capped or limited to the first two children.”

The proposal was first floated by Duncan Smith last October as a means of deterring out-of-work families from having large numbers of children (although Treasury minister David Gauke later suggested it could also apply to in-work claimants). The Work and Pensions Secretary said then:

My view is that if you did this you would start it for those who begin to have more than say two children. Essentially it’s about the amount of money that you pay to support how many children, and what is clear to the general public, that they make decisions based on what they can afford for the number of children they have. That is the nature of what we all do.

But the scale of the problem has been much exaggerated. At present, just four per cent of families with a parent on Jobseeker’s Allowance have more than two children. And, of course, the identity of those families is in constant flux: only 1.5 per cent of those on benefits have never worked. Those who advocate the policy also need to explain why children should be punished simply for having been born into large families.

Restricting child benefit to the first two offspring would inevitably lead to a surge in child poverty. Fortunately, Anne Begg, the Labour chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, is on hand to offer some sanity.

She tells the Times:

“I don’t think that you can make up policy on individual cases and in almost call cases child benefit goes on paying for children’s expenses”. 

“Just because that man [Philpott] has managed to bring about the destruction of his children does not mean that everyone getting child benefit should be penalised as a result.”

The proposal was put forward by Duncan Smith for inclusion in last year’s Autumn Statement but, thankfully, was vetoed by the Lib Dems. However, as I noted yesterday (Welfare cuts: how they could have been even worse), it is likely to appear in the 2015 Conservative manifesto along with a host of other draconian measures. 

The New Statesman

8 thoughts on “Tory MPs respond to Philpott case by calling for new curbs on child benefit

  1. Peachy says:

    Surely families like mine would be unfairly represented in the benefits group? Families with 4 children all born into a dual working household but then one of the children becomes disabled- more children has to equal more chances of that child with the special needs being yours, surely? I’d never regret my family though- we are a working family, just one incokme for the time being- we’re also loving, stable, happy and blessed. At elast one, possibly 3 of the children willl not reproduce so our chances of grandchildren are less than an average family in fact.

  2. ej says:

    My 1st child was severe special needs..waited 12 yrs before having any more then had I’m a single parent/carer through no fault of my own but if this plan comes into force then I will be penalised! This needs thinking through properly for the natural multiple births!

  3. Gloria Flynn says:

    Perhaps someone should have told Mrs Windsor that, then the taxpayer would not have been saddled with having to pay for all four of her children as we’ll as their own families. After all none of her children have ever worked in their lives and rely solely on hand outs from the public. Perhaps Mr Osborne should pop into Buck House and have a word, and at the same time check on how many spare rooms she has in her palace and other castles for that matter.

  4. Serenity says:

    Rewrite daily mail article, calum’s list the vile product of wealty, millionaires in government treating tax payers as cash cows while they rake it in and live like kings with backhanders/handouts for helping multinationals and millionaires to avoid taxes et al.

  5. Serenity says:

    Eugenics, their having a bloody laugh anyway!
    What with all the interbreeding between the moneyed classes down through the centuries their DNA won’t be fit for compost!
    Perhaps that explains why those who rule us are so benighted.

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