Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/641/10359

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 October 2010

Tories turn clock back

Defend child benefit

National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) lobby of TUC conference 2010, photo Paul Mattsson

National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) lobby of TUC conference 2010, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

The Tory and Lib-Dem coalition government has struck at the very heart of the welfare state. The Conservatives' conference has issued a battle cry that will send shivers down the spines of working class people.

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

Chancellor George Osborne announced he will scrap child benefit payments to parents earning more than £44,000 a year. He claims that this is only fair - after all, why should the poor pay taxes to give benefits to the rich? Surely, the Tories argue, this cut in benefits shows that we really are 'all in this together'.

Not so. This claim is a smoke-screen for the vicious reality of the public spending cuts. Millionaire Osborne's plans will save £1 billion - hardly making a dent in the government plans to cut £83 billion! If the Tories really want to stop poorer workers paying taxes to give money to the better off, they could start by scrapping tax for people on low incomes altogether.

The fact is that the poorest in society are paying the highest price for the government cuts. The child benefit threshold has been announced, alongside a cap of £500 a week on the total benefits a family can receive, and a proposal to scrap all benefits and replace them with just one credit. This will further impoverish many families. Meanwhile greedy city bankers are getting £7 billion in bonuses!

And something much more important than £1 billion is at stake. The principle of universal benefits is at the heart of the welfare state, one of the most important gains achieved by working class people after World War Two. The forerunner of child benefit was the family allowance introduced in 1945.

The introduction of universal benefits got rid of the humiliating means-testing for poor relief, which provoked mass protests in the 1930s. Family allowance put a safety net under all families, no matter how their circumstances may change, and was recognition that the cost of raising a child was the responsibility of society as a whole.

Principle

It established an important principle of mutual cooperation. Universal benefits ensured that those who needed them, got them. But they also ensured middle class support for a redistributive tax system - they paid taxes to relieve poverty and provide services for the working class, and got a safety net and access to services themselves in return.

In the late 1970s the system was renamed 'child benefit' and was paid direct to the mother, rather than to the father through the tax system. This was an important achievement for working class women, some of whom had no other income.

Child benefit has never covered the actual cost of raising children, and socialists campaign for it to be increased to reflect the real costs. But it has worked as a benefit, with a 99% take-up rate, because it is simple, there is no stigma and no poverty trap.

As soon as there is any form of means-testing, fewer people claim benefits. £200- £300 million goes unclaimed in means-tested benefits every day because of the complexity of claiming, or people do not know what they're entitled to, or feel ashamed to claim "hand-outs".

The reality is that this attack, which the government hopes will seem reasonable and be popular, is the thin end of a very big wedge. It is inevitable that, once established, the threshold will get lower and lower.

And if it is OK to scrap the universal character of child benefit, why stop there? Why have a free NHS? Why have free education?

This attack marks a stepping up of the war on our welfare and must be vigorously opposed.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 6 October 2010:


Defend Child Benefits

Tories turn clock back


Socialist Students

Students must fight back

Campaigning Socialist Students win support

YFJ and PCS unite against cuts in Leeds


Socialist Party editorial

National Shop Stewards Network and the struggle against Con-Dem attacks

National conference called against cuts in jobs and services


Anti-cuts campaign

No excuses for not fighting cuts

Thousands tell Tories: 'No cuts'

Paying below the minimum

Bristol MPs fail to answer young workers' anger at PCS debate

Meetings and protests against the cuts

Labour councillor's contempt for care centre users

Save Buttercups nursery

Protests on October 23 to fight the government's spending review axe

News in brief


Socialist Party workplace news

Solid strike by Tube workers

Time to strengthen RMT's fighting leadership

Support TSG strike


Health and Safety

Warning: this government could seriously damage your safety


Europe: fighting the cuts

Spain: workers demonstrate their strength

Ireland: a socialist alternative to the crisis

Portuguese workers win the promise of a general strike

Internationalism against austerity: 100,000 demonstrate in Belgium


Socialism 2010

Why you should come to Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010 - a weekend of discussion and debate


International socialist analysis

Chávez wins majority but right-wing gains ground


Socialist Party review

Made in Dagenham


Anti-racism

Nuneaton: community must organise against racism

Leicester: action needed against EDL

Campaign defeats BNP in Stroud


 

Home   |   The Socialist 6 October 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Tories:

triangleDomestic abuse accommodation: Tories shift - but safety is more than a bed

triangleWorcester Tories stonewall action on climate change

triangleWorkload-related mistakes by GPs on the rise - health unions need to fight back

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Trump out, Tories out!

triangleLocal elections: Tory meltdown but Labour loses ground

Benefits:

triangleYoung and old, unite and fight!

triangleUniversal Credit disaster behind foodbank rise

triangleReal life on Universal Credit: "As soon as I get billed for my electric, I'm finished"

triangleThem & us

Working class:

triangleBosses fear revolt against capitalism

triangleSpanish elections - new upheavals underline need for a revolutionary socialist alternative

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: What is the working class?

Tax:

triangleTake the wealth off the super-rich

triangleThe significance of the anti-poll tax movement

Family:

triangleA socialist programme to end women's oppression

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

22/5/19

Probation

Workers celebrate renationalisation

22/5/19

Schools

4 June - Walk out against Trump! Climate criminal not welcome

22/5/19

Birmingham

Home carers victory

22/5/19

Morrisons

Morrisons workers reject pay offer

22/5/19

Accommodation

Domestic abuse accommodation: Tories shift - but safety is more than a bed

22/5/19

Haringey

Haringey: Socialists' stance fully vindicated

22/5/19

Devon

Anger and frustration at the establishment

22/5/19

Worcester

Worcester Tories stonewall action on climate change

22/5/19

National Education Union

Day of action against cuts to special needs education

22/5/19

Strike

Workplace news in brief

22/5/19

Unite

Building a fighting union at Unite young members' conference

22/5/19

Woolwich

Woolwich ferry workers begin ten days of strike action

22/5/19

RMT

Fantastic RMT London Underground victory

22/5/19

Tyne and Wear

Lifting the mood

22/5/19

Worcester

Socialist sales boost

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999