Labour conference: The child benefit cap is a blow to struggling families

Labour's record on child poverty is an admirable one. So it's even more of a shame that Ed Balls has allowed the axe to fall on child benefit.

Ed Balls ncj

Labour’s record on child poverty is an admirable one. So it’s even more of a shame that Ed Balls has allowed the axe to fall on child benefit

In an impressive speech by Ed Balls today, the shadow chancellor sought to balance social justice with ‘toughness’ on the key issue of spending and ‘balancing the books’ should Labour win power in 2015.

To strong applause, Balls told conference that ‘you can never trust the Tories with the NHS’. He also drummed on a familiar theme of ‘the slowest recovery for 100 years’, saying that ‘working people cannot afford five more years of this Tory government’.

Alongside the crowd-pleasers, however, was a harsher message on spending: ‘Labour will make no spending commitments without saying where the money is coming from,’ Balls told conference. As part of this steely message Balls said that a 1 per cent cap on increases in child benefit would be extended to 2017.

Balls made clear that the cap would apply only for first few years of next parliament, but it will have consequences nonetheless. As Alison Garnham of the Child Poverty Action group has warned:

“Child benefit will have lost 14 per cent of its value over the course of this parliament. Another two years of lost value will mean families will be £190 a year worse off for their first child and £125 for any subsequent children by 2016/17.”

Until recently all households with children were entitled to receive child benefit at a rate of £20.30 per week for the oldest child, and £13.40 per week for each additional child. But from 2013 families with a higher rate taxpayer were no longer entitled to child benefit.

Labour claims that pegging child benefit increases to 1 per cent will save around £400 million which will be used to reduce the deficit.

In choosing to cap child benefit below the rate of inflation, Balls is making the political calculation that it will be seen as unfair for adults who are out of work to be receiving more in benefit support than families in work receive in pay. Balls has been accused by some on the right of making a u-turn after Labour voted last year against Conservative proposals to cap a number of benefits (including child benefit) at 1 per cent.

And yet this will seem incredibly unfair to many in the Labour party. After all, children do not make the employment choices of their parents and therefore should not be held responsible for those choices. Average wages may also be losing value due to inflation, but that seems a poor reason for making those claiming child benefit poorer too.

Labour’s record on child poverty is an admirable one. Between 1997-98 and 2010-11 there was an £18 billion annual increase in spending on benefits for families with children and an £11 billion annual increase on benefits for pensioners by 2010-11. As the IFS points out, ‘…child and pensioner poverty would either have stayed the same or risen…had there not been these big spending increases’.

The shadow chancellor has said that Labour is the only party that is truly committed to reducing child poverty. So it’s even more of a shame that Ed Balls has allowed the axe to fall on child benefit, something which helps many people to keep their heads above water.

9 Responses to “Labour conference: The child benefit cap is a blow to struggling families”

  1. Cole

    Completely idiotic Balls policy. And a brilliant way of losing the votes of vast numbers of women while barely touching the problem of the deficit.

  2. treborc1

    Any one with a labour party card should send it back and ask to be upgraded to the new Progress One nation card.

  3. Phil Hove

    FUNNY …this doing rounds conference MPs,,,,facebook…etc..

    You might be interested to know just got sent this email about Ed Balls speech today which is doing the rounds and might interest you:

    Also saw this on
    http://biasedbbc.org/blog/2014/09/22/start-the-week-open-thread-18/#comments

    From Eds Conference Secretary September 22, 2014 at 4:29 pm
    Readers – because of time constraints there were a few things Ed Balls had to leave out of the Conference speech today but I will record them here for you so you get the full picture (EDS OMISSIONS in CAPS):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29301289

    Ed Says: “…… where we made mistakes – we should be grown up about it.

    So Conference, we should have had tougher rules on immigration from Eastern Europe – it was a mistake not to have transitional controls in 2004.

    1. LABOUR WRONGLY PREDICTED 14,000 POLES MIGHT TURN UP – THERE ARE NOW ESTIMATED TO BE AROUND 1 MILLION IN THE UK.

    2. …. I SHOULD ALSO MENTION THAT WE IMPORTED WELL OVER A MILLION MUSLIMS INTO THE COUNTRY AT THE TIME WHICH MIGHT WITH HINDSIGHT HAVE ALSO BEEN A BIT OF A MISTAKE AS WELL.

    3. I NEVER MENTIONED THIS AT CONFERENCE…SINCE ALL THE ISIS BEHEADINGS AND STUFF ……

    4. ALSO REMINDS ONE OF BLAIR PLUS OTHER CONSEQUENCES WE WANT TO FORGET LIKE ALMOST EVERY LABOUR COUNCIL ALL OVER OUR COUNTRY IS NOW OVERSEEING THOUSANDS OF UNDERAGE NON MUSLIM GIRLS BEING RAPED AND ABUSED BY MAINLY PAKISTANI MUSLIM MEN ……

    5. AND THE ILLEGAL WARS…WHAT A BLOODY MESS WE MADE OF THAT ONE ……..HOPE CHILCOT HOLDS OFF UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION…

    “…….. ….A longer time people have to work before they can get unemployment benefit.

    Stopping people claiming child benefit and tax credits for families abroad.

    Cracking down on employers who exploit migrant workers and undercut wages by avoiding the minimum wage and proper rights at work.

    And Conference, while it was the banks which caused the global recession, and it was the global recession which caused deficits to rise here in Britain and around the world, the truth is we should have regulated those banks in a tougher way.

    6. SHOULD HAVE REALLY ADDED IN LONDON WE WERE IN CONTROL OF ONE OF THE WORLD’S PREMIER FINANCIAL CENTRES AND SHOULD HAVE SET THE EXAMPLE AND RULES FOR THE WORLD’S BANKS……

    7. OOPS WE ALMOST BANKRUPT UK AND ALLOWED LONDON BANKING RULES TO INFILTRATE MOST OF THE REST OF THE WORLD BANKS AS WELL…….

    It was a mistake. We should apologise for it. And I do.

    8. OOPS ….NEARLY FORGOT ….SOLD 400 TONS OF OUR GOLD RESERVES.. …AT KNOCK DOWN PRICES AVERAGE $270 OZ – (NOW $1,300 OZ )…… YES 400 TONS WE SOLD – WE SILLY BUGGERS.

    9. LABOUR ALSO PRESIDED OVER THE SLOWEST GROWTH FOR 50 YEARS.

    10. PRODUCED THE FASTEST DECLINE IN BRITISH MANUFACTURING SINCE MANUFACTURING BEGAN.

    11. BEQUEATHED THE COALITION THE LONGEST RECESSION EVER COMBINED WITH THE LARGEST EVER PEACETIME DEFICIT.

    12. GOT RID OF MOST OF THATCHER’S EU REBATE LEAVING US NOW ABOUT 57 MILLION PER DAY TO PAY.

    13. INSTEAD OF CATERING FOR THE MILLIONS INCREASE IN IMMIGRATION LABOUR AVERAGE ONLY 24,299 SOCIAL HOUSES BUILT PER YEAR ….NOR DID WE BUILD ENOUGH NEW SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS ETC

    14. SORRY ALSO FOR NHS AVOIDABLE DEATH RATES GOING THROUGH THE ROOF (MID STAFFS THOUSANDS ETC) DURING OUR TIME.

    15. WE WENT FROM TOP PENSIONS FUNDED COUNTRY TO RAIDING 5 BILLION A YEAR FOR THE TREASURY.

    16. WE SLIPPED FROM THE WORLD’S TOP 5 IN SCHOOL RESULTS TO NOW IN LATE 20s (WITH MANY TROJAN HORSE MADRASES THROWN IN FOR GOOD MEASURE).

    17. WE BUILT NO NEW SUBSTANTIAL POWER STATIONS WHILST IN OFFICE.

    18. WE WASTED 800 MILLION ON THE MILLENNIUM DOME.

    19. OUR FUEL DUTY ESCALATOR INCREASED DUTY BY OVER 107% – YES THAT MUCH – WHILST WE WERE IN OFFICE.

    20. BROWN SNEAKED IN AND SIGNED LISBON TREATY (WITHOUT REFERENDUM).

    21. DONATIONS TO THE PARTY CAUSED ALMOST CRIMINAL HAVOC (ECCLESTON & LEVY THANKS A MILLION OR THREE).

    22. BOTCHED BILLIONS IN PFI CONTRACTS – THIS WILL HAVE A GENERATION OF AFFECTS.

    23. LABOUR PARTY FINANCES IN DEBT – WITHOUT UNIONS WOULD NOT SURVIVE – EVEN LABOUR FRIENDLY COOP BANK WENT TITS UP!

    24. LARGEST GAP INCREASE BETWEEN RICH AND POOR EVER UNDER LABOUR.

    25. ALLOWED UP A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF OVERSEAS AID PLEDGE TO BE CORRUPTED.

    26. SUCKED UP TO CRONY PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS INFLATING PUBLIC PAY AND PENSION WAY ABOVE PRIVATE SECTOR (INCL BBC)

    27. IMPOSED POSTAL VOTING EXTENSION TO POLITICAL CORRUPTION – TOWER HAMLETS TIP OF AN ICEBERG!

    28. PACKED QUANGOs, CHARITIES, BBC FULL OF LABOUR CRONIES – RUBBING THE RIGHTS NOSE INTO IT – THIS HAS HUGE ONGOING PROBLEMS FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE NATION THAT DOES NOT VOTE LABOUR.

    29. DEVOLVED SCOTLAND, WALES, NI LEAVING MASSIVE DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT FOR ENGLAND.

    30. IMPOVERISHED MILLIONS WITH THE CLIMATE CHANGE ACT IMPOSED WITH ZEALOTRY.

    31. CREATED MULTICULTURAL EXTREMISM WHICH HAS PROVED NOT TO WORK AND DAMMED ANYONE RACIST WHO DARED TO POINT OUT THE REAL ISSUES.

    32. SENT OUR MILITARY TO WARS UNDER EQUIPPED – HEINOUS.

    33. CREATED WELFARE AS A LIFESTYLE WITH TOTALLY DYSFUNCTIONAL TAX CREDIT AND HOUSING BENEFIT SYSTEM.

    34. INSISTED ON 50% OF PUPILS GOING TO UNI EVEN THOUGH DEGREE LEVEL JOBS FOR ONLY 20%.

    And so as we get the deficit down, we must reform our banks for the future so that can never happen again.

    And Conference, and we didn’t do enough to tackle the underlying causes of rising spending on housing benefit and in-work poverty.

    So the next Labour government will raise the minimum wage, build more homes to get the housing benefit bill down and cap overall spending on social security.

    And Conference, we should not have scrapped the 10p starting rate of income tax.

    But we don’t just need to learn from our mistakes.

    NO TIME FOR ANY MORE – FREE TO ADD YOUR OWN

  4. Guest

    It’s still never enough for you. No, you want to;

    …Close the borders, and remove everyone not just like you, and you’ll constantly need new targets for blaming for crime when you don’t solve things with your first wage of pogroms.
    …Refuse to confront dictators and tyrants, because you agree with them
    …Blame Labour for everything, ignoring the Coalition’s depression
    …Making most pensions even in the public sector even worse so people won’t bother with them
    …Demand all bodies not follow the law, but your ideological lines, meaning zero help for the 99% from any body, and impose the same rules on Charities, shutting down almost all of them, absolutely including any which do work in the fields of medical and welfare.
    …Criminalise any sign of “culture” which you disagree with, burn the museums, etc.
    …Ban workers from talking to each other, or having basic rights

    …Offload billions in costs onto the poor by ignoring AGCC.
    …Starve the poor when you take their jobs away from them, as you undermine wages in the remaining jobs, and force people onto the streets.
    …Smash the British educational system and make us a low-skill, low-wage country

    Etc.

    Thanks for the UKIP manifesto!

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    Move right, lose votes. The story of Labour over the last few years.

  6. Phil Hove

    Leon……Hey do not blame me …I am passing on what was sent to me…….
    But think red mist has come over you… since it did not say almost everything you post. Where you get that that all from?
    Why you make that silly fantasy stuff up?
    Close borders – who said that? Never read that?
    Criminalise any sign of culture..what?
    Smash the educational system…what planet you on?
    Burn the museums ?…hey you have a nasty streak accusing people of that..nothing in that email about that!
    Get your head into gear man!

  7. Guest

    LordBlagger…you typed it, it’s you. You posted it, it’s your invention.

    As you talk about the blood you want to spill from the British, as you admit your own post is a silly fantasy. You called for smashing the borders shut, for criminalising museums showing anything but your “culture”, for destroying education, it is nasty, and you’ve done it.

    Of course you want to murder me by smashing my head into the gears of a running machine or whatever other excuse you come up with today. But as you’re off in a tax haven, this isn’t much of a threat.

  8. Guest

    Oh, and it’s notable you haven’t denied most of it, LordBlagger.

  9. uglyfatbloke

    The very poorest people mostly don’t get Child benefit anyway. Almost inevitably they will be on some kind of means test assessment which effectively cancels out the Child Benefit. If we can’t afford it for the poor how can we afford it for anyone else?

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