Iain Duncan Smith: Cut your children

How many children do you have?

I don’t have any. My sister has one son. Iain Duncan Smith has four – two sons, two daughters – and it appears we should ask him:

Which of your children do you think you could give up if you became poor?

Would he give up the two oldest children? Or the two youngest? Keep one boy, one girl? Both boys? Both girls? Which children would he willingly cut out of his family if he came one of the working poor who need to claim Housing Benefit because rents are so high, tax credits because wages are so low? If he lost his job and had to claim JSA?

Iain Duncan Smith: poverty is a sin

These are all very personal questions – much more than asking if he’d be willing to cap his state-paid benefits to £26,000 a year – but IDS just brought it up yesterday on Radio 4, when he started trying to justify the next plan of attack on the economy, the additional cuts in welfare for 2015–16 up to £10billion, because we’ve seen so well how austerity works since 2010.

“Large numbers” of families on welfare are having more children because they believe taxpayers will support them, he claimed.

By contrast, working families often chose not to have more children, even when they would like to, because they cannot afford to do so.

“People who are having support through welfare are often free from that decision,” he told BBC Radio 4. “We want to support people if they have children when they are out of work, of course. But really, is there an endless point to this? Can there not be a limit? You have to cut your cloth in accordance with what capabilities and finances you have.”

He added: “My view is that if you did this we would start it for those who begin to have more than, say, two children.”

Tory compassion: cut your children in accordance with your finances. If you lose your job, lose one or more of your children. Where to? Care homes? Adoption? A Swiftian solution?

Of course Iain Duncan Smith is lying like a lying thing when he claims that “working families” don’t claim benefits (93% of new Housing Benefit claimants are in work) – but this is the Tory tactic, to avoid discussing high rents and low wages and a rising cost of living.

The LibDems say they will oppose it, which is some comfort when you remember how they opposed the previous round of welfare cuts.

And for all that, this may be the outrageous kite flown to make whatever cuts the Tories really have planned for 2015-2016 sound reasonable by comparison.

Update, 15th December 2013

The Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, Nadhim Zahawi, added his voice to the call for state control of families in the Mail on Sunday by cutting child benefit and tax credits for all but the first two children of any family. The Mirror reported:

If implemented after the general election in 2015 it would apply to those who had a third child from then onwards, not to families with more than two children now.

The plan emerged just days after Chancellor George Osborne indicated he would seek to make further cuts in the welfare budget if the Tories won in 2015.

Mr Zahawi said that the welfare state was established as a “last resort, not a lifestyle choice” but “the safety net became a straitjacket” trapping people into a life of dependency on the state.

He is apparently not a believer in social mobility: children will, he thinks, inevitably stay at the same level of their parents and ought not to be helped to rise.

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5 Comments

Filed under Children, Poverty

5 responses to “Iain Duncan Smith: Cut your children

  1. Anna

    “large numbers of families”, “we all know there are people who have children to claim benefits”, “it is a fact there is a growing underclass…”, “it is becoming a lifestyle choice”, “you know the problem I am referring to”

    Those empty appeals to common knowledge and common sense are so detestable. And of course they’re always there in discussions about benefits, the poor, the immigrants.. They are very convenient.

  2. I believe all children regsrdless of their parents income are entitles to child benefit. Their parents can choose not to claim it if they wish.

    Rather than cut child benefit – the holistic approach would be to support a change in attitude to the family. Now my view has nothing to do with if your married or not. It’s just that men and women in the UK need to be more responsible for raising their children. The current attitude is to father a child and leave the state to raise him! There is no need to think about where a child will go to school, what will happen if they are sick, where they will live or how they will be fed as – the social will pay.

    Why isn’t there pride in going out to work and supporting your family? Pride in being a parent and being the best that you can be.

    How about if we start now. Each and every one of us begin to take care of our own. We all know men who don’t visit let alone support their children financially. What has happened to the extended family? I would be mortified if I knew a child of mine wasn’t supporting their family. Times are hard but grandparents and extended family need to speak up! Lets get old school. Where are the matriarchs and the real men who will tell others to grown up, be an adult and play their part?

    The CSA should take on this role by putting the name of parents who choose not to comply with maintenance arrangements on bill boards across the country. It may sound drastic but make the change now and reap the rewards as a reduction in the social security bill. Also can’t we have a system that makes a parent immediately liable for maintenance garnished from their wage if they are employed? And if they are unemployed the current system where a man is able to take a payment from the social fund and the repayment is a priority over any maintence payments needs to be changed. If you have a children – a job, any job shold be found for you and you should be made to work or lose all entitlement to support from the state. The money you would have received in state benefits should be used to support your child.

    The same needs to be said of how we look after our elders. Lets get back to families with the government supporting the change needed to make this happen rather than penalise hard working families who are affected by the austerity cuts.

    • Lucy-May Dashwooc

      Dear me, where do we begin to unravel these half-truths “We all know men who don’t visit let alone support their children financially.” Do we? I don’t know any at all.

      “What has happened to the extended family? I would be mortified if I knew a child of mine wasn’t supporting their family.” Many people don’t have an extended family. As for those that DO have an extended family will often find that the relations are also working hard.

      “Times are hard but grandparents and extended family need to speak up! Lets get old school. Where are the matriarchs and the real men who will tell others to grown up, be an adult and play their part?” Yes, let’s get REALLY “old school” and start paying a family wage/salary – the sort of remuneration on which a man can support his family.

      Looking after elders. Our “elders” also worked, paid taxes and national insurance and many are left impoverished and unable to pay the enormous costs of social care, residential care and so on. It isn’t always possible for the “extended” family to club together and pay these costs.

      The fact is that much of housing benefit is paid to people who are working. The number of workless families where there are generations of worklessness is miniscule. In an economy which has been stifled by recession and a chronic lack of investment, where are the jobs – even the “any jobs” – to come from.

      The reality is that we have a low-wage economy with high costs for fuel, high private sector rents, insufficient affordable housing and social housing, an inadequate public transport system, poor care in the NHS and social care for vulnerable people (not just elders). A great deal comes down to insufficient and inappropriate investment. And I won’t even start on tax avoision and evasion by the wealthy in this country.

      So … I would advise people to read quality newspapers and journals, watch good-quality news programmes, read original source documents for themselves, and above all to think critically about the things they read.

  3. Pingback: Tories practising social eugenics with family policy « A Burdz Eye View

  4. Pingback: IDS: The Quiet Man with Much To Hush Up. - The Backbencher

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