Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

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.


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


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:


triangleCorbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangleEnd Tory war on poor

triangleWakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangleTory housing policy: build zilch, hike prices

triangleMake the Tories history


triangleWaltham Forest Universal Credit protest

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

triangleDisability cuts outrage: my story

triangleBosses say 217 years to close pay gap - workers' struggle can close it now!

Working class:

triangleFighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle

triangleLeft comic's take on politics will have you in tears

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Environmental crisis - a working class issue


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTrump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse


triangleProblem gambling soars by 33%

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee



Unite protest against blacklisting


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm



BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes



Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test



School staff strike against privatisation



Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services



PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest



Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000



TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections



Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students



Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice