Child benefit ‘should be restricted to four’

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CHILD benefit should be limited to four children in a move which would save taxpayers £1bn over the next five years, according to a think-tank.

The proposal will be included in a forthcoming report from the Policy Exchange on how to save money on welfare spending, which takes up the biggest share of the Government budget.

Pointing to research which suggests that the biggest impact on family finances is the first child, with the cost of further children smaller, the centre-right think-tank argues that child benefit should follow a similar pattern.

A poll commissioned by Policy Exchange suggests that more than two thirds of people support capping child benefit.

Families currently receive £20.50 a week for their first child and £13.55 for each of their subsequent offspring.

Policy Exchange’s report suggests that in future child benefit should be reduced for each additional child, with payments for fifth and subsequent offspring born after April 2016 being scrapped altogether.

Steve Hughes, the author 
of the report, said: “The Chancellor has suggested that annual welfare savings of £12bn will have 
to be found to avoid further and faster cuts to Departmental budgets.

“Choosing where this money comes from is not easy, but with such high levels of public support, capping child benefit at four children and redesigning payment levels offers a very real opportunity to generate some much-needed savings in the fairest way possible.”