Coffee House

Iain Duncan Smith’s latest welfare cut kite

25 October 2012

1:39 PM

25 October 2012

1:39 PM

It is strange that the government has chosen to trail a speech by Iain Duncan Smith on an issue popular with voters on the same day as good economic news. The Work and Pensions Secretary has already reached an agreement with Chancellor George Osborne that it is possible to cut a further £10 billion from the welfare bill (when he originally said he would block those cuts), and is now starting to prepare the ground for some of those cuts to take place. He knows that while the public supports further welfare cuts, the Lib Dems will not without a credible package which ensures the rich are paying more.

One of the proposals that Duncan Smith is flying as a kite today is limiting benefits paid to families with more than two children. He made clear on Radio 4 this morning that the limit would apply to parents having children in the future:

‘My view is that if you did this, you would start it for those who begin to have more than… essentially it’s about the amount of money that you pay to support how many children, and what is clear to the general public, and this is very clear to them, that they make decisions based on what they can afford for the number of children they have; that is the nature of what we all do.’


This is sensible: rather than hitting an existing family for a decision taken years ago to have a third or fourth child, the benefit cut would apply to couples considering whether they can afford another baby in the future.

But as this is simply a kite rather than a policy announcement, the Lib Dems are keeping their mouths shut about whether this could be part of the package that they will approve. One senior party source tells me: ‘It’s not government policy and we haven’t signed up for it.’ Whether it will end up in their agreed package in exchange for a new policy that ensures the rich bear the greatest burden remains to be seen.

UPDATE, 2.45pm: A source close to Nick Clegg gets in touch to underline that this is indeed kite-flying and that they are not at all taken with the idea. The source tells me:

‘This is just Tory kite-flying, like they did at their conference. The Liberal Democrats have not signed up to it and it is absolutely not Government policy. The Lib Dems aren’t keen on it at all. It doesn’t even save very much money as we’ve already introduced a benefits cap.’

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Show comments
  • Lacy.

    What happens to those that choose to have 3/4 children and are employed but suddenly become unemployed.

  • Barbara Stevens

    The truth is we have to cut our debts we have no choice, or its those very children who may be born who will pay the bills. We in this country are over populated as it is, and social services, schools, hospitals, housing, is stretched to its limits. But we have to have a cut in immigration too. The fact is why should we pay women and families who have lots of children, if you want them its up to yourselves to keep them, not rely on the state. Many who are on benefits have them to increase their weekly benefit, the rich have them because they can afford to. Either way, its an individual choice, not the states. My two children don’t want children, they both work and pay high taxes. The don’t mind that, but hate to contribute foreign kids who’s parents haven’t paid into the system for long. So, it’s obvious there are a lot of areas which could be cut before acutually hitting our own first.

  • Jim Moore

    per week plus expenses of another 1,500 a week earning him over
    £4000/week rent free and he complains about a child getting £12.80 a
    week !
    I find his having 4 kids a very hypocritical stance to say the least

  • Trev

    Why has no one on here mentioned the muslims that are known to be breeding at a rate ten times faster than the indigenous people of this country? Let me guess,their religious beliefs will automatically make them exempt from any such child benefit cap the same way it enables the majority of there scams.

  • Lyraa

    Another out of touch policy that again slams the under privileged , let’s blame all the countries finances on the poor and hopefully idiotic people in a time of need and blame will help get this conservative government to win another term . Let’s look back to ww2 where hitler blamed the countries recession on the Jews . When people struggle it’s all too easy to get caught up in blame game .
    God bless all our children and give them the best start in life , just like you Mr Ian Duncan Smith who was bought up in a privileged family and who will never know what it’s like to struggle.

  • 2trueblue

    It is a realistic cut. It is a choice and why should everybody else pay for that choice?

  • Brian Lovett

    Barking, completely barking…

  • Serbitar

    What about women who become pregnant while employed, lose their jobs, and give birth to triplets, quads or quins. Are those completely innocent children going to be made to suffer needlessly?

    • james102

      And members of the little known Welfare Maxi religion? It is so unfair!

      • Serbitar

        I’m not affiliated to any political party and voted last time for the Liberal Democrats in point of fact. I am not left wing. I am simply a humane individual who believes that helpless children deserve the maximum help and protection from harm wherever and whenever they need it. It’s nothing to do with politics. It’s everything to do with humanity.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Idiot. He is not banning plebs like you from having children. Just saying that hard working taxpayers like us shouldn’t have to pay for your lifestyle choices or subsidise your brats.

      • Serbitar

        As a top-rate tax payer none of the welfare cuts affect me directly. I do not however want to live in a first world country like Great Britain with soaring child poverty because society has turned its back on babies and children born innocently into the world through no fault of their own: I do not believe that children should suffer for the sins of their parents whoever they are and whatever they have done. I do not even mind paying 50% income tax to help fund services that you need and couldn’t afford to pay for unsupported and alone even though you are obviously an intellectually challenged carpet-chewing right-winger.

        Iain Duncan Smith could end up a greater child abuser than Jimmy Savile.

        Which I suspect might encourage the likes of you to vote for him.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Now you are being silly. How many omen will be in the position you describe?

      • Serbitar

        One woman’s suffering is significant to me and children should not be made to suffer for the actions of their parents. Married Catholics are supposed not to limit the size of their families by use of contraception and there are about 5 million of them in the UK, tens of thousands of which must be unemployed ( The net result of this pernicious policy will not be to curb children from being born into poverty but to penalise thousands of innocent children born into the world, through no fault of their own, to parents over whose behaviour prior to their conception they had no control. This is miserable, nasty and brutal stuff designed to appeal to miserable, nasty and brutal people. Absolutely dreadful.

  • Andy

    Better idea would be to abolish Child Benefit. Just phase it out completely.

  • James O

    I agree 100% with IDS. This country is now hooked on welfare and it needs putting a stop to, but I bet the Libdems will put their oars in and cut the kite.

  • annie

    Please censure remarks. Colin should not be given a platform for his nasty peevish unintelligent filth,surely the Police are interested in such vile threats.

    • Steven

      Colin is entitled to say what he wants. IDS is an evil man who clearly demonstrates his profound ignorance and hatred of benefit claimants everytime he deigns to open his ignorant gob. IDS hasn’t got a clue as to what causes unemployment let alone has any rational and humane way to resolve it. He prefers to play to the gallery and gain cheap votes from the equally inhumane and ignorant.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Colin has more problems than IDS does or ever will have. He should seek help.

    • Colin

      Here darlin, I’ll tell you what, you can censor the little bit of pre cum that glistens on the tip of my cock before I facefuck Gove, how’s that for compromise? People like you make me fucking sick, professionally offended. That’s what they want you to be. I’m not the fucking problem here darling, the scum cunts in the fucking suits pulling the wool over your fucking eyes are. What kind of cunt reports a comment to the police? They have much more important things to do with their time, taking payments from newspapers and shooting innocent dark skinned men in the back, murdering a newspaper salesman and getting away with it then being rewarded with a full pension, covering up industrial scale lying for over 20 years, let’s not even get started on the prostitution and drug rings that many of the Met police are involved in. Most of the operation Trident officers are dealing class A’s.
      So in summary, fuck IDS, fuck Gove, fuck the fucking police and fuck you darling, now fuck off and be all offended.You cunt.

  • dalai guevara

    Some people will claim that IDS is the better Andrew Lansley – he has travelled the country for over one year now, visited the front line and listened to what goes on in Britain. That is commendable, especially the fact that he has not also ended up in the ‘rota pot’ like others – thanks for fighting that corner.

    But now, what has he heard when he travelled the nation? Did he not hear about how the 16h work/tax hurdle strangulates every low income single mum etc out there and prevents legally obtaining more work and get out of poverty? Has this not been reported to him? Has no one guided him to people in these circumstances?

    The one-sided message we are currently getting is simply: we are cutting £10bn (0.7% of GDP) on welfare. Fine, do that – give stick. But where is the carrot?

  • Barry

    Simple- family allowance for married couples, maximum three children and only one child for unmarried mothers. Should sort out lots of social problems.

  • Mike Fowler

    We know that some people abuse benefits but some more so than others. We have cases of people buying houses in their childrens names, renting them out to Europeans devoid of contracts and then claiming full benefits for their whole family. As for the mother of two children with a third on the way, hitting their benefits will only produce more malnourished deprived children whoes only sin is being born. IDS has shown himself to be more at home with fascist ideology as have other extreme right-wingers in this illigitimate government. So Mr Smith when are you going to start building WORK-HOUSES?????

  • Colin

    I would love to facefuck IDS. I don’t fancy him and I’m not even gay but I’d just love to violently facefuck that cunt until he puked up last night’s foie gras.

    • james102

      How weird, obscenities but the politically correct “Gay”!!

      • Colin

        What part is obscene? I only suggested that I would like tto facefuck him. That’s not obscene, that’s a compliment to this closeted vindictive little cunt. He deserves far worse than that, maybe the Met Cops could investigate his expenses claims or his multitude of non-declared interests? That’s fucking obscene and now this cunt plays to the fucktards in the gallery with this shite about gassing chav families in order to save a few quid for the sacred fucking taxpayer.
        Now I think about it I think I’d facefuck the cunt with London bus, over and over again until his little fat cheeks were a mushy red paste. And “gay” politically correct? You’re a bit over fucking sensitive sunshine if you think the word gay is politically correct. Would you preferred me to have used the term turd-burglar? Arse bandit? Uphill gardener? I think the newest form of slang for man-on-man action is “Gove” as in Michael. But don’t get me started on that sniveling little wasted abortion.

        • james102

          That is better, I prefer a consistent style.”Gay” seemed so….gay.

          • dalai guevara

            OMG. Malcolm Tucker does exist!

  • CraigA

    The savings are a drop in the ocean compared to legal tax loopholes. Most self employed people pay miniscule amounts of tax.
    Perhaps they need to make all companies trading in the U.K. to have a majority shareholder as a British citizen. These days all the big companies are ownedby foreigners, all the profits are going abroad bleeding this country dry.

  • JohnTar

    “…a speech by Iain Duncan Smith on an issue popular with voters on the same day as good economic news.”

    It is NOT popular with voters, only perhaps with a small proportion of self-satisfied Tory voters – so where do your reporters and columnists get these ideas from? The British attitude to the welfare state IS – and always has been – that someday THEY might need to use it, perhaps even to depend on it! Most folk who live somewhere in these islands have a relative, or friend, dependent on welfare support for one reason or another and, whilst many who are unemployed currently, or who have been unemployed for some time would love to have regular employment, with good conditions of work, full-time, and decent earnings, the majority KNOW that under this Coalition Government and its extreme austerity policies that is unlikely.

    The fact that IDS (a hard-hearted man as shown in past positions of authority) allows his diktats to encompass the disabled amongst us, and rarely differentiates between the jobless and those who are terminally sick, sick or disabled, is the answer to the question, “Why has he changed his mind about the monetary level of the cuts demanded by Osborne?” He is a weak man and – just like many of his compatriots on the Government front bench – is prone to rotate at mind-blurring speed when ordered to do so by his masters and change policy…

    • dorothy wilson

      That is not what the Social Attitudes Surveys reveal.

      • JohnTar

        @ Dorothy Wilson:

        The NatCen SAS “has surveyed 85,000 people over a period of three decades” according to the Guardian. Those surveys have covered government (recently particularly the Coalition, which was not well liked), the NHS (which also recently was downgraded in people’s opinions) and that there should be less spending on benefits as you state, but if you read the quite lengthy synopsis in the Guardian (Googling British Social Attitudes Surveys, about three choices of subject down the page) you will see that several options are given that relate to what people currently feel about benefits and caring for those who are unable to partially – or completely – care financially for themselves. 59% is the figure given for those who consider that people should be given more financial help if they are unemployed – down from 85% in the 1990’s. Though down in numbers, that new figure is STILL better than half of those polled; 85,000 over a period of 30 years does not sound much like a representative figure to me however, even at the higher survey numbers, but folk DO still care about others in large numbers nevertheless if you’re happy with the number of people polled. I think that you should read it again and perhaps remove the blinkers that let you observe and digest only the bits that you like…

    • Fergus Pickering

      Yes it is popular with voters. All polling shows it. It may be right. It may be wrong. But it sure as hell is popular.

      • JohnTar

        There are, in fact, very few “polls” that ask that question, Fergus. Google it and find out for yourself! It’s a question that cuts across peoples’ definitions of what is right and proper to ask – perhaps the Sun would ask it, but few other newspapers or polls actually would. How would YOU phrase it to the nation if you were to ask it? “Would you cut back on welfare benefits”? It’s personal and relates to SO many different personal financial needs: the old, the young, children, those unemployed and those with a disability. It isn’t a “fair” question – only the uncaring would answer that question in a flatly positive way.

        I found in my research that only the independent, fact-finding organisations (government or charity sponsored or otherwise) asked people to respond to it. My delve into that world showed (specifically through NatCen SAS, as I show above) a fall to 59% from 85% during the 1990’s and, as is also stated, it IS linked directly into a sense of dissatisfaction with this government and its policies (It only relates to 2011 – see the King’s Fund evaluation of the 2011 survey). That is why I responded to Dorothy Wilson’s one line comment, which was less than definitive about the popularity of financial benefits, in such a way.

  • Lisa

    i hope he’s also going to cut expenses to those who own 2 or more properties and the subsidies intended for farmers that are given to wealthy landowners too. We’re all in this together.

    • telemachus

      So IDS is going to screw those who want to have a family size of their choice

      China did this faced with the legitimate excuse of a population explosion that threatened to stretch their limited resources years ago.

      Remember their solution to limit couples to having only one child.

      Forced abortions, sterilizations, and infanticide

      But exterminating the young limits the number of young to work and feed the elderly

      Further basic economics says that if you only have one pie and four people are there to eat it, they will all get larger slices than if eight people want to partake.

      Our resources will only serve so many people so inevitably the IDS child limit policy will become a ‘No Healthcare for the Elderly’ policy

      That is the true goal of IDS and his coalition mavericks

      • telekuka

        pity your parents didn’t leave you on an ice float

      • A. S.

        Dear God, haven’t the men in white coats found you yet?

        “…screw those who want to have a family size of their choice.”

        You would still be able to have as many children as you desired, but the cost would be born by you, not me.

  • James Blair, Co

    I have written to the Prime Minister on this topic why are we:-
    1) Paying Child Benefit for more than two children.
    2) Housing benefit and other benefits to teenage single mothers
    3) Child Benefit to foreigners and sent direct to their Bank accounts in Poland
    4) All the other ridiculous benefits we pay to people who do not want to work.
    We should introduce laws to say no new Child Benefit will be paid for more than two children starting in say 01 January 2014, with current benefit continuing until children leave school.
    The recent thing has been teenage girls having three/four children, many by different fathers, living with a man (not officially with the Social Services), she claims all the benefits and invariably has the partners wages coming in as well. (Nice on UK).
    The whole system needs pulled apart and stop paying to keep Foreigners seeking refuge here, who are mostly scroungers, Abu Hamza being an example, how much did it cost the poor tax payer to keep him and his family.
    Why are we sending Millions to countries run by Dictators, who live in luxury with their cronies. Mugabe and his cronies are skimming the proceeds from Diamond production for themselves, and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe used to be the Bread Basket of Africa, now after driving out the farmers and confiscating their land they produce nothing.
    Wise up Mr Cameron and get real for the British Yaxpayer.
    Jimmy Blair

    • Serbitar

      I hope your letter to the PM is better spelled and punctuated than your post above or he might be tempted to consider you a poorly educated idiot.

      • Barbara Stevens

        Try and be more tolerant with others we all have a point to make.

    • David cowie

      100% of tax payers money paid on housing benefit goes to Landlords.

      Secondly foreigners are about as welcome in County Antrim as a Jobby in a swimming pool!

      living with men not officially with the social services is not a crime. Jimmy I Jest. I think you probably meant social security, although one never knows.

      I assume you have read the reports that foreigners are net gain of 32% to UK economy and that 90% of immigrants work etc. Even Farage accepts that his policies would make UK poorer.

      Pensioners get most benefits and are biggest cost to tax payer. However, I am sure you do not want their benefits stopped. So in the meantime lets not tinker with entitlements that tolerant societies tend to have.

      Oh and your Chinese style state imposed birth control is interesting

  • wrinkledweasel

    Anything that deters feckless chavs from becoming baby machines for the sole purpose of keeping themselves in fags and Diamond White is good news.

    It is not the purpose of the state to fund lifestyle choices.

  • ian staples

    He’s a nasty spitefull man motivating nasty spitefull people ,who don’t see that the true parasites on the majority are the self centered ruling elite.

    • Barbara Stevens

      The very same self centred elite who have most of the money and invest here.
      Without them we would be in more trouble. They are not all nasty people, but some are I’ll grant you that.

  • LB

    10 billion is 5 Richard Branson’s a year.

    Where are the Lib Dems going to find the mug billionaires so they can take all their money to patch up just one bit of government overspending?

    Whose going to get the bill for the 375 bn of QE?

    Barbie, why phase in over 3 years? Less than 1 year is enough unless you know something about pregnancy that I don’t.

    What about capping benefits at median wage after tax?

    IDS is only proposing capping it at pre tax levels, meaning you are better off than many who are working.

    • Edward Griffin

      “Whose going to get the bill for the 375 bn of QE?”

      err, nobody. The Bank of England bought £375 billion of gilts off the bond markets with newly created money in order to lower interest rates to make borrowing cheaper to stimulate the economy, at the cost of probably increasing inflation. If anything, we should cancel those gilts, thus instantly wiping £375 billion off the £1 trillion uk national debt, saving the tax payer the coupon and principal payments. Who losses out from QE, well savers earn less interest, your pension maybe doesn’t do as well, and people buying annuities get less and therefore have reduced spending power. On the flip side, mortgages rates are now incredibly low.

      • DavidDP

        “On the flip side, mortgages rates are now incredibly low.”
        As is borrowing, which tends to be useful if you want businesses to expand.

        • Jim Moore

          if only the now laughing bankers would have lent!

      • james102

        This would result in the increase in supply of money being permanent weakening the pound and increasing inflation.
        The truth is they don’t know what to do with the gilts.

    • Barbara Stevens

      I was suggesting phasing it in to encompass all families and chlldren now, the new rules would apply to new claimants. You have to allow time for famlies to adjust.

  • barbie

    This is good news but it should also have included those with more than two children now as well, and phased in over three years to give time for preparation. It would have saved even more money. We are over populated as it is, and with the EU preparing to give £1000 to those who want to move here for jobs, we need to tackle it with some urgency. We have again missed an opportunity but there is still hope they will revise the proposals.

  • tom jones

    The left will be hysterical, the right will be too, but this is a good idea. Much better to take away benefits as you give people a choice. If people want more kids they should be able to pay for them Yes we have an aging population, but no excuse to dish out unlimited child benefits imo

    • Serbitar

      Dopey. Women sometimes give birth to more than one child at a time. What happens if an unemployed women becomes pregnant with triplets? Should she have an abortion or suffer a financial penalty for an event over which she has no control.

      • wrinkledweasel

        “becomes pregnant”? “No control”? It’s a long time ago and at my age memory plays tricks, but in order to “become pregnant” you have to engage in un-protected sex.

        Of course, women don’t want to take responsibility for this because some man probably took advantage of them when they were out of their heads on alcopops.

        The simple fact is, if you want a family you should be prepared to pay for it. Why TF should I?

        • Serbitar

          We should pay for the children society produces because they are innocent and helpless and have done no harm to anyone or anything: no completely blameless baby or child should ever be made to suffer for the sins of their parents.

          The garbage you come out with used to be said about illegitimate children born out of wedlock years ago. People used to rant about “paying for other people’s bastards” and such like in cruel and ugly ways and the children involved often suffered great poverty, misery, and ended up with blighted lives simply because they had been born out of wedlock, even though they had no say in the matter or control over who their parents were or how they came into being.

          This was vicious, ignorant, demeaning and nasty behaviour unworthy of a developed enlightened country populated by free men and women of conscience, rationality or humanity. And now supposedly devout Roman Catholic Iain Duncan Smith wants to resurrect a revised version of this wickedness in 21st century Britain.

          Shame on him!

          • Fergus Pickering

            You don’t think, do you? You just preach self-righteously. The children you speak of may be born blameless, if that’s what you believe, but that doesn’t last long, brought up as they are, higgledy-piggledy by those who had them to increase their totally unearned income. These children rapidly become the ones who stone mentally ill people and murder other children by kicking and stabbing them to death. They will have, in their turn, other children who will behave in the same way. This is the underclass. Have you heard of it?.Do you want this to go on?

            • Serbitar

              More urban mythology.

              What utter nonsense, seeking to tar a whole demographic by insinuating that all of them, or a majority of them, once born inevitably grow up to be thugs and murderers. I really wonder how people like you get through your day and manage to feed yourselves and not mess your pants. If an underclass exists it does so because our economy is tanking and there is an insufficiency of jobs not because people prefer living on benefits: the minimum wage is too low now to enable full-time workers to rent accommodation and pay all of their bills without help from the state.

              Besides, how stupid must you be to believe that all people make rational choices about everything, sitting down and toting up every element of their income to decide how many children to have (or not have) and then organising their lives accordingly. What about Catholics who are forbidden by their religion from using contraception? Is Roman Catholic Iain Duncan Smith suggesting that his fellow Catholics disobey the Pope and their Church and start using the pill, coil, cap, or condom? And what about an unemployed woman with one child conceived when she was in work who becomes pregnant with twins? Why should she suffer poverty because of an event over which she has no control?

              No child is born destined to become a violent monster. If that happens the fault is ours for not doing enough to prevent it.
              Shame upon British society if it sponsors systemic and institutional child neglect by design.

              Britons were better than this once.

              Too many of us have forgotten what we once were.

              • A. S.

                “If an underclass exists it does so because our economy is tanking…”

                An underclass existed during the boom years; in fact, it grew. It is the product of a collapsed education system and decades of bleeding-heart molly-coddling of those who refuse to grow up.

      • A. S.

        She should make sacrifices and be thankful for being blessed with so many children.

  • LondonStatto

    I’ve been advocating this for years. Cuts the welfare bill and adds a check on population growth.

    • Serbitar

      No child benefit in Africa where women routinely have large numbers of children. Life doesn’t work as simply as stupid right-wingers believe. Grant Shapps said that capping housing benefit would cause rents to fall when in fact they have risen by 6.5%. Cutting child benefit to the needy will only cause their children to suffer it won’t reduce the welfare bill much at all or stop people from having sex.

      • wrinkledweasel

        Oh here we go again. Women in Africa “routinely have large numbers of children” because they are culturally disposed not to use birth control. They also have a different attitude to the family and family support structures. You cannot compare the two.

        i am sorry that I cannot stop you having sex, but I can stop you being bailed out when you do. I can also ask my MP to place an emphasis on education, after school support and free school meals, in order to give children an opportunity to escape the ignorance, poverty and violence of their backgrounds.

        • Serbitar

          My point is that consequentialism never yields results as expected.

          NOTHING the Tories have done is working as expected.

          All that is happening is that suffering is increasing.

          Keep your eyes open over the next few years to see Universal Credit crash and burn. Cameron should never have put a proven idiot like Smith in charge of reforming the welfare system. No wonder the Prime Minister wanted to transfer duffer Smith from the DWP to the Ministry of Justice – sweeping the dirt under the carpet as it were – and poor old Cammo couldn’t even manage that!


  • Steve in Somerset

    About time too. Cut child benefit to two only whilst you are at it.
    The last thing we need is more people,

    • Serbitar

      As far as people like you are concerned I agree wholeheartedly with your last partial sentence.