Friday, 24 September 2010

The future of child benefit?

At conference, the Daily Politics were asking MPs and party members whether they felt child benefits should be for some or for all in a period of austerity.

As you can see from watching the clip, I have - as a liberal - a fundamental problem with means-tested benefits. Fellow blogger Anna Raccoon makes the case against means testing here. I would be reluctant to go against the Lib Dems' historical position on the issue, but also on a practical level it's also difficult to know where to draw the line; inevitably we would end up making distinctions between the deserving and underserving. Plus, as my liberal instincts tell me, the thrust of our policies should be in tackling poverty rather than focusing on cutting costs.

Obviously Sir Menzies Campbell and Tim Farron disagree with me, but it is of course right that this discussion should be had openly. As Tim Farron rightly pointed out, this isn't an issue that "divides" the party - we simply have different perspectives on how best to alleviate poverty when the national deficit urgently needs to be reduced.

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