Osbourne Refuses To Shield Child Benefit

GEORGE OSBORNE came under increasing pressure yesterday to spell out where he plans to cut £12 billion from welfare after he dodged ­commitments to protect child benefit.

The Chancellor’s crippling cut would be made by a future Tory government along with a further £13bn from government departments in last month’s budget.

But independent think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has heavily criticised Mr Osborne for failing to come clean as to where his freshly sharpened welfare axe will fall.

Now the Chancellor has repeatedly avoided a straight answer on whether he would roll child benefit into universal credit — which would effectively cut the benefit by £4.8bn according to the IFS.

“If you judge us on our approach in this parliament and if we wanted to put child benefit into universal credit, we would have done it when we set up universal credit,” he told a Westminster briefing.

“We have got a track record, we have got a plan that’s based on clear principles about making work pay and sharpening work incentives.”

The IFS estimates that 4.3 million families currently receiving child benefit would lose out by more than £1,000 a year because they will not be eligible for universal credit.

Labour’s shadow chief Treasury secretary Chris Leslie claimed that the cut would put middle-income families in the firing line.

But Disabled People Against Cuts (D-Pac) co-founder Linda Burnip told the Star that welfare cuts hit the most vulnerable hardest.

“If they cut child benefit it will have a knock-on effect on families of disabled children who have already been hit hard by welfare cuts,” she said.

The Tories have already cut £21bn from welfare and Mr Osborne insisted that the future cuts were “perfectly achievable,” adding that “anyone who thinks that the job of reforming welfare has somehow been completed, I think, is mistaken.”

Speaking before a campaign trip to Aberdeen, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said that the Tories planned to cut £1 billion a year from Scottish benefits even though they only spent £935 million on disability benefit in 2012/13.

 

By Will Stone from the Morning Star

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