HM Government Petition Child Benefit changes - to assess whole family income

(39 Posts)
pofacedalways Thu 10-Jan-13 12:01:21

This is a petition about assessing the whole family income, not about whether families with 50k income should get child benefit or not. It is intrinsically unfair and absurd to take away benefit from some families and not others on the same income. Please sign if you agree.


flatpackhamster Thu 10-Jan-13 12:28:07

No household with an income of £50k should get state handouts.

niceguy2 Thu 10-Jan-13 14:19:22

In general i agree with you flatpack. But the withdrawal should be gradual and fair to most.

The CB changes initially was a cliff edge which is rarely fair to anyone and only after much protest did they do this slight bodge.

Plus I still can't understand why they didn't just withdraw CB and adjust child tax credits to take it into account for lower earners. All the systems are there. Surely it would have been easier and fairer than this current crock of shit?

LilyBolero Thu 10-Jan-13 14:22:10

Did you ever wonder why Child Benefit came from HMRS not DWP? It's because it is essentially a TAX ALLOWANCE. ie - not a benefit, it is from tax you have paid, but because you have greater calls on your salary, you are allowed to keep more of it. They changed it to make it payable to women, not just the main breadwinner, but then they changed the perception of it, to make it seem like a benefit, that could be taken away.

Seen as a tax allowance, it is far more reasonable to say it should be universal, because all children incur costs.

And why should families WITH CHILDREN suffer more than couples/individuals WITHOUT CHILDREN? Would have made MUCH more sense to slap a penny or two on the HRT bracket, so everyone in that salary contributed, not target children.

LilyBolero Thu 10-Jan-13 14:22:57

(sorry that should be HMRC not HMRS - Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - ie the TAX OFFICE, not the DWP - Department of work and pensions, where all other benefits come from).

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Jan-13 17:26:38

Tax Credits are handled by HMRC aren't they? They're a benefit rather than a tax allowance. In spite of the misleading name.

Startail Thu 10-Jan-13 17:46:35

Family income for everything please!!!

DH has paid far more tax over the years than if we had earned 1/2 each.

Ok no child care so overall it cancels out, bit no incentive at all for couples to stay together.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Jan-13 18:11:51

I've paid far more tax over the years as a single person than a couple earning 50% of my salary each ... smile The only way to make that one fair is to ditch the personal allowance completely.

meditrina Thu 10-Jan-13 18:12:28

Assessing whole family income would eliminate the biggest unfairness introduced in the currently shambolic arrangements.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Jan-13 18:18:02

There's certainly a case for scrapping CB all together, rowing it into the the CTC calculation (or the UC calculation as it will become) and making slightly bigger payments to families with a household income less than the current threshold. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the long-term future because making two income-related payments to households with children is a pretty indefensible duplication.

niceguy2 Fri 11-Jan-13 11:22:37

Agreed Cogito. Especially when one of the selling points of UC is to slim down the number of different benefits people have to make and therefore save money in the admin.

belleat40 Fri 11-Jan-13 11:30:55

Devil's advocate here, what about the idea that parents who both work should keep it because they will have childcare costs that families where only one parent works won't have?
Disclaimer - also thinks it's unfair but have heard this argument from working couples who are keeping benefit.

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 11:39:39

belleat - they also have 2 personal allowances, so already benefit in that way, which helps to offset some of the childcare.

witchwithallthetrimmings Fri 11-Jan-13 11:42:46

Its not only children though, if one partner does not engage in paid work then she/he is either enjoying leisure - in which case the family is better off then if two people were working to get the same income - OR she/he is doing stuff, cooking cleaning, look after children, shopping around for bargains that either reduces the cost of living for that family or makes them better off (tastier food, less stress with homework etc). If a family is working 40 hours a week in total to bring in a total of 400 pounds there are much much better off than if a family was working for 80 hours a week for the same money.
I think the change is mad but assessing it on family rather than individual income is equally so

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 11:47:46

no I would definitely dispute that, it MUST be done on family income. Personally I think childcare should be a pre-tax allowance in the same way that other work expenses are, up to an agreed limit, but it is wrong to give money to families who have a higher income than others who don't get it. The childcare element just shouldn't be factored in, because some families will have grandparents nearby, some will choose different types of provider, some will have work place providers. There are too many variables.

As to 'providing tastier meals etc' - I don't think that comparison can really be made either - some friends work full time, and contract all of that out - so they will have a nanny who does out of school childcare, cooks the meal, cleans the house during the day etc etc. Everyone's situation is different, and the only way to legislate is to be scrupulously fair. To pass a policy with such a blatant inbuilt unfairness is either grotesque stupidity, or social engineering, or a bit of both.

witchwithallthetrimmings Fri 11-Jan-13 11:55:46

but the nanny will have to be paid for lily paid help is exactly that

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 11:58:10

yy, absolutely, what I'm saying is that you can't generalise about what people's situations are; you can't assume that because someone is a SAHM then they have loads of time to prepare tasty food etc, or that people WOHM don't have that time.

That's why it should be done on family income, and shouldn't try and second guess what people's situations are.

witchwithallthetrimmings Fri 11-Jan-13 12:00:30

If you had to pay someone to do the work of a SAHP then you would be talking at least 23 grand, working parents have to either contract this work in OR do it in their spare time.
It is the cliff edge nature (the mass of people with high (40+ grand) salaries that are still getting it that is the problem

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 12:07:12

but what if you are SAHP who can't do all that work;
maybe they are ill
maybe they are caring for an elderly relative
maybe they are volunteering in school
maybe they have a disabled child

You just can't generalise, and certainly can't make law based on assumptions about people's lifestyles.

picketywick Fri 11-Jan-13 12:17:36

People say 50 thou a year is not a massive income. It is if you compare to 15 thou

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 12:26:43

pickety, it isn't though, and the reason is because it isn't as simple a comparison.

At 50k you have no help with anything. No tax credits. No help with housing. Huge wodges of tax to pay etc.

At 15k there is help to be had, less tax etc.

The interesting stat I like is that the benefits cap was set at 26k. No tax to pay on that. That was seen as 'difficult' when it was set, with many people arguing that it was 'very difficult' to live on that amount.

But on 50k, you are bringing home about 35k before any expenses incurred in going to work (childcare, transport, clothes for work etc). Suddenly they don't seem so different. So it is disingenuous imo to say '26k it is too low for a benefits cap, but someone earning 50k wouldn't miss child benefit'.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 13:29:11

Many mothers who stay at home full time to care for children do have additional costs similar to the working mother in any case. Those who want to re-train or update their skills. Also those who are doing valuable volunteer work. I have been thinking of volunteering to work for the CAB, but may not be able to now as the CB would have helped fund childcare to enable me to do this.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 13:34:13

I am still convinced that this time next year they will change this policy. They will probably have no choice. Once the reality of the additional self-assessments hits HMRC and all the cock-ups that ensue from that become apparent, they may have to change course. Also, I am waiting for someone to challenge the fairness of this in the courts. I am sure someone will. If not the fairness aspect, there is always the tax confidentiality aspect, e.g. husband doesn't self-assess as wife tells him she's stopped claiming. Who goes to prison? How will that work? HMRC would have to tell husband that wife did claim CB. Surely that breaks confidentiality rules? It's sure one hell of a complicated mess. We'll see hmm

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 11-Jan-13 13:58:27

" Once the reality of the additional self-assessments hits HMRC and all the cock-ups that ensue from that become apparent, they may have to change course."

HMRC are actually really keen for more people to self-assess and particularly self-calculate because it cuts costs and reduces mistakes. As for the legality surrounding confidentiality it is always the responsibility of the taxpayer to ensure that they are paying the right amount of tax. Claiming to be ignorant of whether a partner has claimed or not claimed CB won't be a legitimate defence.

BTW... confidentiality doesn't apply when Tax Credits are claimed. Whoever applies is required to submit the household income. If a partner in those circumstances refuses to hand over the information and the household income is under-declared as a result, then it's fraud.

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 14:05:34

The tax office is now authorised to give out info about your income to your partner/husband.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 14:06:33

Tax credits are not being handled the same way as CB though. Tax credits are based on household income, hence the need for the household income to be assessed. Cb is based on the income of one person in the household, therefore individual income not joint. They are then planning on clawing it back from the person who does not receive the benefit. There is massive scope here for monumental cock-ups, particularly for those who are currently not required to carry out a self-assessment. If I tell my DH that I don't claim CB any more, he will not submit a tax return. If HMRC then discover that I did claim CB, who will they prosecute? It should be me for with holding information, but it should also be him for not declaring it on a tax return that he didn't realise he had to do in the first place. Anyway, I have made the decision that this policy is so crap as it stands, that I am more than happy to go to prison to prove a point. That said, my DH hasn't even received a letter about this!

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 14:10:27

Lily, they are not authorised to give info about your income to your partner. I know someone who phoned HMRC and asked if their wife claimed CB. They were told that their partner was entitled to claim CB, not that they claimed it. My dh knows that I am entitled to claim CB, as is everyone with children. If I phoned them and asked them what my DH earns, they can only tell me that he earns enough to be affected by the changes. The point is that they cannot tell either partner specific information about the other. It is against the law.

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 14:42:04

Child Benefit Income information

You can find out two things (cut and pasted from the enquiry form)

1. To find out if your partner/ex-partner is/was entitled to receive Child Benefit during a specific tax year, please enter that year below.
2. To find out if your adjusted net income is/was higher than your partner's/ex-partner's for a specific tax year, please enter that tax year below.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 11-Jan-13 14:46:39

"If HMRC then discover that I did claim CB, who will they prosecute?"

Him... The onus is on the taxpayer to ensure they are paying the right amount of tax. Doesn't matter whether he received a letter or not, everyone has to take personal responsibility for paying what's due or accept the consequences.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 14:47:20

The point is that they cannot tell one partner that the other partner received CB, only that they were entitled to receive it.

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 14:49:10

But they can also give information about the level of income a partner is earning.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 14:50:24

This is a complete dogs dinner and I guarantee that it will not run smoothly and that HMRC will not cope. I am also quite certain that it will lose the conservatives the next election and that it will be a repeat of the poll tax debacle, i.e. many people being let off because it was impossible to chase them up and then for the policy to be ditched. We shall see.

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 14:53:51

ihategeorgeosborne (did you know you were namechecked in the national press this week btw?) - I only hope so. The really depressing thing is that most people think 'it is unfair, but I am in favour of it' - because it doesn't affect them.

Just like most people are 'in favour' of the cap on benefits - as long as it doesn't affect them.

Divide and Rule Politics is alive and well.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 15:00:07

Thanks Lily! Yes, I did notice the article in the telegraph. I couldn't believe it. I shouted to my DH that I had got a mention in the DT! Anyway, you are right. They are only doing this as it affects few people and they think it will keep most on side. They've definitely lost two votes from this household for ever. Yes, I'm ashamed to say that I have voted conservative previously. They have confirmed to me in this administration however, that they are nasty, cruel people who have no idea about how others' live, let alone the meaning of the word they like to champion endlessly "fairness" !!!

LilyBolero Fri 11-Jan-13 15:03:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ihategeorgeosborne Fri 11-Jan-13 15:52:32

Yes, it is disgusting. When I had a job where I stayed away from home, I was entitled to a £10 evening meal allowance. Breakfast was toast and cereal as you suggest. Oh but wait........they're MPs, they deserve it. That's why they think they're entitled to a 33% pay rise to 85k. They have the audacity to accuse us of being fiscal nimbys. The bloody cheek!

OliviaPeacein2013Mumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 11-Jan-13 22:14:13

We have moved this thread to our petitions topic

ReallyTired Fri 11-Jan-13 22:24:24

I think the child benefit cap is stupid as it discourages people from working extra hard. DH could earn more if he chose to go into London and take a job with more responsiblity. We are under the threshold and dh doesn't feel moviated to work extra hard as he would more than half of the extra income.

The whole thing is a shambles and will cost more to implement than it will save. I think there would be a lot of sense in scrapping child benefit and increasing child tax credits.

The whole thing is a smokescreen for the really cruel cuts to the disabled.

pofacedalways Sat 12-Jan-13 09:47:08

I think it is great shame that some people resent a family on 50k [who pay 40% tax who often have had to pay a mortgage or rent of 1000 pounds a month to stay near their work] their child allowance. When the very highest earners are evading so much tax, middle income families are targeted. As I said it is the unfairness of targeting families on the same income ased on who works which is the issue. Anyway, hopefully some might sign the petition. Thanks.

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