Bishop of Exeter criticises Government for child benefit changes
THE Bishop of Exeter, speaking in the House of Lords, has attacked the government's changes to child benefit, introduced this month, for penalising families where only one parent works.
He said the change introduced "significant" unfairness into the tax system. He said those who said that stay at home parents should go out to work had a "deeply misguided view" as most families where one parent stays at home do so out of necessity, rather than choice, because they have a disabled child or relative, or a child under five.
He said: "The majority of one-earner families are one-earners out of necessity rather than by choice. 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."
He criticised the Prime Minister for employing "an odd definition of fairness" that allowed a single earner couple bringing home £50, 000 to be taxed but allowed a dual earner couple bringing home £99,000 to keep all their child benefit.
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He said figures from the charity CARE 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.
He called for reform of the child benefit system and a transferable tax allowance for married couples in the March Budget.
"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."