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George Osborne announces that higher rate taxpayers will lose child benefit

Ahead of his big speech the Chancellor George Osborne has just announced that higher rate taxpayers will lose child benefit. The measure will save £1bn.

It was only yesterday that Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said that it was ‘bonkers’ to have people earning more than £50,000 receiving benefits. Today's child benefit measure will affect families earning £44,000 and more - a group, Mr Osborne conceded, are not the "super rich".

Tory HQ will be looking carefully towards the Daily Mail for how it reacts. The newspaper sees itself as the protector of Middle England. Its Comment column today will give the party some encouragement. It puts the squeeze on the middle classes in the context of the Coalition reforms that will encourage people off welfare and into work:

"Hard-working families have already borne the brunt of tax and national insurance rises, seen the value of their savings plummet, and watched their pensions disintegrate.  New plans to allow universities to more than treble university tuition fees to a maximum of £10,000 a year will also fall disproportionately on their and their children’s shoulders. Nevertheless, the Duncan Smith proposals are bold and welcome. They encourage initiative, punish indolence, and could galvanise a generation. If they succeed in ridding Britain of the cancer of welfare dependency, which has eaten away at the fabric of our society for decades, ignored and unchecked, then sacrifice now – be it ever so painful – will surely come to be seen as a price that had to be paid."

But then the warning from Mr Dacre:

"But if they fail, David Cameron and Mr Duncan Smith will have an awful lot of explaining to do to millions of angry middle-class voters."

> The think tank Reform has previously recommended a much wider reform of child benefit and its replacement with more targeted child support.


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