Monday, 3 December 2012

Kwills, babies and child benefit (rant alert)

Well, I hear that Kwills are pregnant.  Congrats.  Yet another one of my predictions has come true. 

I make such predictions all the time.  Predictions that are, in fact, statistically quite likely.  It makes me feel a little bit more clever than I am.   My most recent prediction (apart from their royal preggerness) was that Charlie would win IACGMOOH on Saturday.

I didn't watch - I went to bed in a fug of Saturday night reality/competitive/celebrity overload.  I felt particularly clever on Sunday  morning when my prediction had been proven without the necessity of watching her eat wallaby genitalia.  See, I'm a lucky girl.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

On to the subject of this post...

We had our Child Benefit letter recently - the one that tells you that if the father of your offspring has worked hard enough for however long to make sure he provides enough cash for your family then you won't get a benefit that has been the backbone of our welfare system since 1946.

It has been paid to everyone, however much their father/mother earned or where they live or what they do, since 1946 - that's 66 years.   Since the war.  Since the war that inspired various politicians to endeavour to make our society a better, more equal place.

Now, if you/I/we are earning more than the threshold amount then there is a big part of me that says that's fine.  If you don't need it or you use it to pay for your highlights or your La Perla lingerie, you don't need it and in these straightened times we must all take the hit, suck it up, reduce our circumstances, tighten our belts blah di blah di blah.

However, for me the principle here is the equality of the benefit.  The fact that every child, no matter into what circumstances they were born were automatically entitled to receive that benefit until, I read, 7th January 2013. There was nothing to stop the wealthy from refusing their Child Benefit or not claiming it in the first place.  It would be intriguing to find out how many did not.

Child Benefit, or as it used to be called, Family Allowance was one of those principles - like the NHS,  like free school dinners, like tuition fees - one of those things that the politicians in 1946 put into place to give everyone, if they needed it, that little extra bit of help. 

I know it's a different world.  I know things have gone pear-shaped financially but does everything have to be so mean-spirited all the time?  Are 'benefit scroungers' and 'disability cheats' screwing as much out of the system as the corporations and high-net-worth individuals with particularly special tax advisors managing to screw?  Would it really make that much difference to the national coffers to protect something of our welfare state?  Would it be so hard to make sure that babies and children went through their school life with that little financial buffer for their parents?  I think not.

So...on the day that Kate & William celebrate the birth of their baby, hundreds of other babies will be born and their parents will be wondering where on earth they are going to find the £20 or so a week they would have received for 18 years (after tax).  If my maths is right, about £1000 per year, so £18,000.   Saved, that's a good start for university.  Spent, it might make the difference between a square meal a day or not.

Happy Christmas Mr Osborne.  I won't be forking out 50p to send you a Christmas card, 2nd class.


Only Me said...

Well ranted, well said.

Sarah {The Student Knitter} said...

We're having a similar debate here in the states. I have a tough time believing that all the people "cheating the system" don't steal nearly as much money as the rich people who hire tax lawyers to find the cracks in the system so they don't have to pay their taxes. I hate that the privileged aren't persecuted because they do it "legally" but it's only legal because they pay politicians to make it legal.

GAH. all to say - I agree.