Balls: Labour will not threaten child benefit

Ed Balls, in his speech to conference, quashed speculation that tax credits and child benefit could be cut by the Labour government. Two weeks ago, the Observer splashed news that, “Labour [is] set to target middle class benefits.” It went on:

“A senior cabinet aide said measures whereby top earners lose out in order to benefit the poor were proving popular and might even be needed to shore up Labour’s core vote, overriding past concerns over upsetting home counties voters”

Polling by YouGov and reported by Andrew Sparrow found that there was net support of 38 per cent for means testing child benefit.

But in his speech, Balls said:

“We are not going to cut back Sure Start or tax credits or threaten child benefit.”

Research by Reform in their, “Back to black: Budget 2009 paper,” (p.24) outlined that £12.15 billion could be saved from cutting Child Benefit, tapering the family element of the tax credit, and allowing for a £5 billion increase in the Family Element and Child Tax Credit to address child poverty concerns.

But Nicola Smith of the TUC argued on Touchstone that, “universal entitlements have been continually proven to be the best means to ensure that those in the greatest need can access them … in 2000-01 while take up for Child Benefit was found to be near to 100 per cent, means-tested benefits showed take-up shortfalls.”

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6 Responses to “Balls: Labour will not threaten child benefit”

  1. Oikonomist

    Technically taxing CB or removing them from the middle classes is not “threatening” CB, it is simply “re-prioritisation”!

  2. Rory

    I am just watching this speech now and I have to say his delivery is appalling. He looks like a disorganised schoolboy who hasn’t prepared for a presentation properly. Really, it’s quite embarrassing. I presume he’s reading an autocue and the words aren’t coming through quickly enough. Can anyone shed any light?

  3. Swagata

    Balls said “Tory cuts” amounted to lots of teachers going. But the evidence shows it’s Balls who wants to cut teaching staff, we’ve seen his move to save billions by sacking front line staff like deputy heads. So I’ll take what he says with a pinch of salt when it comes to child benefits.

  4. Swagata

    Rory, I don’t think it’s a broken autocue, he’s just not a good speaker.

    We can view evidence of this from his 2008 speech, just listen to the first 30 seconds of his speech at and you’ll see he mangles his words worse than John Prescott, despite an expensive private education.

  5. Politics Summary: Thursday, October 1st | Left Foot Forward

    […] the introduction of a “smart uniform policy.” Balls also said that Labour would not “threaten child benefit.” Harriet Harman turned on the BNP describing them as the party that “wanted Nazis to […]

  6. jayne

    is there to be an increase in child benefit as i have heard. this was in the conference this week oct 2009

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