The Government is considering a radical reform of child benefits, including stopping payments to millions of families when their children reach the age of 13, it has been reported.
The Times newspaper says the Government's new poverty adviser, Frank Field, is also looking at possibly taxing child benefit and allowing parents to get up to £25,000 in the first three years of their child's life.
Field, a former Labour minister, told the Times that child benefit should be linked more closely to the child's age.
The benefit currently costs the taxpayer £11 billion a year and is paid to every family until a child reaches the age of 19, if the child is still in full-time education.
Every family, even the wealthiest, gets the same payment - £20 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each subsequent child.
However Field told the Times that poorer parents can currently claim payments worth up to £100,000 in child benefit and tax credits.
He told the newspaper there was a clear case for giving mums more money in the early years so they can stay at home and look after their children.
However that benefit could then be removed when the child became a teenager, when mums are more likely to want to go out to work.
Field told the Times: "At that age mothers feel even more engaged with work than they are with children. They feel more secure with their children when they are over 13 and so on.
"If you have a crisis at work and can't be home, it's not such a disaster as when you have a seven-year-old coming home from school."
Some have argued that child benefit should be means-tested, but Field told the Times he would rather look at linking it to children's ages.
"In the last few days there has been a lot in the press about whether we should means-test child benefit," he said. "What I would like to introduce is another way of looking at this - age-relating it."
However, Tim Nichols, of the Child Poverty Action Group, told the Times: "Child benefit is extremely successful ... guaranteeing that there is an income paid directly to the mother and spent on children. It is never disputed. There are no bureaucratic difficulties. We would not want to see anything done to upset that."
What do you think of these proposals?
Source: The Times
More:Money & Work
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