Capping child-related benefits by family size has been floating around in the background for a while. Iain Duncan Smith said in October 2012 that he would like to see unemployed families only receiving tax credits and housing benefit for their first two children:
Now David Cameron’s millionaire chum Nadim Zahawi has gone a step further by saying he would limit child benefit and child-related tax credits to two children for everyone, working or not.
Yes, it is that Nadim Zahawi, the man who thought he would get away with claiming £5,800 from the public purse for his energy bills in 2012/13, including the heating bill for his 20-horse stables. To put this in context, Nadim Zahawi earns £2,916.67 for seven hours a month’s work for a recruitment firm, on top of his MP salary. He could have paid his entire yearly energy bills himself with less than two days’ work. This man, who thinks we should be paying for his stable staff to be kept warm instead of him, their employer, has actually got the incredible brass neck to say that people such as you or I shouldn’t be given help to put shoes on our third child’s feet and food in their bellies, because people “can no longer assume the taxpayer has a bottomless purse”. Yes, he actually said that.
I’d like people who think this is a good idea to just consider for a minute what would happen if us poor did just ‘stop having children we can’t afford’. Who would staff your shops for minimum wage? Who would work in the care homes that keep those unsightly disabled pensioners off your streets? Who would work in your warehouses and distribution centres? It’s sure as hell not going to be your children, is it? They’re not going to put up with working nightshifts for £6.31 an hour, because they have the prospect of something better. Child benefit, tax credits, housing benefit, these are all things that allow the 4.8 million people (that’s 20% of the entire UK workforce, by the way) like me who earn less than the Living Wage to keep a roof over our families’ heads. They’re part of the deal. If you take them away you’re going to have to pay us more, a lot more. It’s a fine line between keeping people just desperate enough to work for poverty wages and tipping them over the line into desperate enough to stop taking it quietly anymore. And eventually we really will stop breeding and then your comfortable well-oiled society will grind to a halt.