Bishop of Exeter warns child benefit cuts will unfairly penalise families
The Bishop of Exeter has criticised cuts to child benefit for unfairly penalising families with one person in work.
Households with one earner on more than £50,000 have already started to lose some or all of the welfare payment as part of a £2 billion Government crackdown.
Child benefit has been withdrawn on a sliding scale from families where one earner makes more than £50,000 a year. Households with one earner on £60,000 or more will lose all their benefit – or £1,752 for two children.
However, a family with two earners each on £49,000 a year will keep all the money.
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Almost 16,500 families in the Westcountry will lose out, the Western Morning News revealed earlier this month.
In a House of Lords debate, the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter, argued stay-at-home parents are invariably not in jobs because they have a disabled child or relative or a child under five.
"The majority of one-earner families are one-earners out of necessity rather than by choice," he said. "This is extremely important because there are those who give the clear impression that one-earner families should not be helped because all stay-at-home parents should get paid employment.
"This is a deeply misguided view that has no regard for the constraints that one-earner families operate in, the sacrifices they make and their significant contribution to the national well-being."
Bishop Michael added that figures from the charity CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) showed that single-earner couples were already paying more tax than two-earner couples with the same income, because they could use only one tax allowance.
"Let us not forget that most one-earner families do not have the option of becoming two-earner families, that they make an incredibly important contribution to our national wellbeing and should not be penalised for doing so," he said.
Bishop Michael added the reform was made "even more perplexing" by the lack of tax breaks for married couples – despite a Conservative party manifesto promise – while proposals to redefine marriage are "proceeding with undue haste".
He called for reform of the child benefit system and a transferable tax allowance for married couples in the March Budget.
The Prime Minister has defended the coalition's controversial cuts to child benefit saying: "I think people see it as fundamentally fair that if there is someone in the household earning over £60,000 you don't get child benefit."