According to the Guardian 4.6 million women, who receive child tax credit directly, will be affected by the reforms to child benefit. In addition, low-paid new mothers on £12.000 a year are losing £1.300 during pregnancy and the baby's first year via cuts to maternity pay, pregnancy support and tax credits. Also they are losing a further £422 from cuts to child benefit over the same period.
The above figures were complied by the Commons library for the shadow equalities minister, Yvette Cooper, who intends to highlight the plight of women in the debate this coming week.
Apart from the complexities of the new system (where application has to be made not to receive child benefit), is child benefit necessary today?
Child benefit (or family allowance as it was called then) was first introduced the year I was born - 1946 - to give non-working mothers money when the wage-earning man of the house couldn't be relied upon to hand over enough for the needs of the family. The allowance was paid to all children with the exception of the eldest. In those days many women had to give up work when they became pregnant
and in the past 66 years for millions of women - and indirectly children -the money was a life line.
In 2003 the then Labour government introduced Child Tax Credit in an attempt to reduce child poverty. This tax credit can be paid to the employed and unemployed. All families with children and a combined income of up to £58,000 a year (or up to £66,000 a year if you have a children under 1 year old) can claim. The basic amount is up to £545 a year but extra 'elements' are paid - if a child is disabled is an example.
Why does government have two systems which provide financial support for children (albeit through a parent/parents)?
David Cameron has said he didn't want every family with children to undergo means testing, but surely child tax credit is exactly that.
Wouldn't it be much fairer to scrap Child Benefit and promote Child Tax Credit for all families with children? That way the necessity for those who earn over a specific sum to complete tax returns to opt out of Child Benefit would be eradicated and HMRC would have more time on their hands to perfect our basic tax calculations?
If David Cameron's proposal for working families to be able to claim up to £2,000 per child every year from their tax bills to cover the cost of childminders and nurseries comes to fruition, then surely Child Benefit must be consigned to the dustbin.