Much has been said in recent weeks about people like Mick Philpott making a small fortune off the state by sitting on their arses and breeding kids. Many have said that he was a product of the UK Welfare State and, I have to admit, I can see where they are coming from.
In this tax year, the government is introducing wide ranging changes to the benefits system. Labour are, of course, jumping up and down about it. But then they would wouldn’t they? Nothing like a nice easy political target to shoot at and, let’s face it, Ed Balls couldn’t hit a barn with a shotgun if he was standing inside it!
So let’s take a look at child benefit…
Family Allowance was introduced by the Atlee Labour government in 1946. It wasn’t paid for the first child – which was a bit crazy because that was where the major expense lay. It was amended in 1952 by Winston Churchill when the rate paid for the second child was less than for the third and younger ones. It was rebranded Child Benefit in 1977 by Labour’s Callaghan government when the eldest child qualified for the first time.
In 1991, the Major government paid it to the eldest child for the first time, and then in 1991 the edlest child qualified for the first time.
So it would seem that all shades of government have had a hand in making the system what it currently is. In the majority of countries child benefit is means-tested but not in the UK. When the coalition came to power, it took steps to remove the benefit from households where there was a higher rate tax payer. The logic was that if you had plenty of money, you could support your own children. This took effect in January this year.
My personal view is two fold. Firstly, I believe firmly that the breeding of children should not be a way of earning a living off the state. Philpott has proven that this is certainly a viable option, making some £60,000 a year in benefits. This cannot be right.
Child benefit should be a helping hand. Pay it on the first child, then half it on the second child, and then nothing. The country is overpopulated. The state should not be seen to encourage overbreeding.
More importantly – and perhaps more controversially – I think parents should not have children unless they are able to support them. Simple really, if you can’t afford them…
…then don’t have them.
(I shall now sit back and wait for the torrent of outrage!)