What a difference a year makes

George Osborne today announced the end of child benefit as a universal benefit. The move is in direct contradiction to his conference speech last year.

George Osborne made his speech to Conservative party conference today. As expected he announced that the Conservative party would reverse its pledge to protect child benefit.

Last year, George Osborne told Conservative party conference:

“We will preserve child benefit, winter fuel payments and free TV licenses. They are valued by millions.”

Watch it:

This year, he said:

“We still pay over a £1 billion in child benefit to higher rate tax payers… We will withdraw child benefit from households with a higher rate tax payer.”

Aping Nick Clegg’s conference speech, George Osborne equated the structural deficit to a “credit card bill” despite the metaphor being referred to as “simplistic nonsense“, “totally misleading“, and a “disreputable old populist fallacy”. He failed to address the risk of Britain mirroring Ireland’s cuts experience.

Meanwhile, journalists were quick to ask for more detail on his proposal to cap benefits. The Times’ Sam Coates tweeted, “what is that limit and how many currently above” while The Spectator’s Peter Hoskin added “And how much will it save?”. Columnist David Aaronovitch said, “The family benefit cap sounds tough and fair, superficially, but the details may be crippling for some. Figures please.” Channel 4 News’ Faisal Islam predicted: “the crowdpleasing avg family limit on benefits will be fiscally utterly irrelevant, affect a few hundred, maybe low thousands.”

Hat tip: Mehdi Hasan

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