Today, on Twitter, I made the comment that changing Child Benefit was something I believe Labour should have done a long time ago. Not in the way that George Osborne plans to do it, but in terms of preventing the super-rich from being able to claim it. The responses I received were broadly in agreement - I asked the question: Why should the Beckhams be able to claim it? Why should £20 of taxes paid by working people be given to David and Victoria towards the upkeep of Brooklyn?
This is the issue: the very wealthy do not need it and by giving them this universal benefit, it prevents the money being targeted more effectively. The issue is not about single-parents, I would question whether a single-parent earning £250k per annum should claim it too; neither is it about multiple-income households, it is a hugely complex issue and it appears that George ran out of room on the back of the postage stamp he is writing his ideas on.
George Osborne is making a huge mistake in trying to pretend he is making the rich pay more. As ever, he has tried to over-simplify a very complicated issue and come out with completely the wrong result. Yes, there should be a review of how Child Benefit is paid, but doing so with no consideration to overall household income, is not the way to do it.