Treasury Minister David Gauke has expressed his frustration with the "fiscal nimbyism" of middle class parents who oppose cuts in child benefits, and stressed there is no section of society, rich or poor, that will not feel the effects of government cuts.
The Conservative Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury said in an interview with The House magazine that he accepts that there are those earning "£60,000 who won't feel that they are, sort of, super-rich” but insists “the reality is that if you are earning above £60,000 it does put you in the top ten per cent. It might not feel like it, but it does.”
"I think there’s a lot of people who are in favour of reducing the deficit but then when it’s something that affects them there can be a degree of fiscal nimbyism. The reality is that every section of society is having to make a contribution.
“We can’t pretend that there can be sections of society which we can completely protect from deficit reduction."
He defended the wildly unpopular decision to cut the 50p tax rate, telling the publication that the old rate was "a big sign hanging over the UK economy saying ‘Britain is not open for business’.”
The child benefit cut will mean Gauke himself will lose his benefits for his three sons, but said his family would “have to cope. Households, I suppose, have to live...we all have to live within our means…just like the country.”
The looming child benefit cuts are set to cost some families around £50,000 by the time their youngest child reaches adulthood.
Financial services firm PwC found the long-term cost of the cuts which come into force in the New Year will equate to more than a year's take home salary for many of those who stand to lose the benefit.
Catherine McKinnell MP, Labour’s shadow exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement: “This is yet another example of how out of touch this Conservative-led government has become.
“Ministers shouldn’t be insulting parents or telling them to stop moaning about losing thousands of pounds in child benefit.
“What they should be doing is explaining how on earth it can be fair to cut child benefit from parents on £50,000 while people on over £150,000 are getting a tax cut.
"And they need to tell us how many millions of pounds are being wasted on the chaotic and complicated administration of this ill thought out policy.”
Gauke said that the government could also not promise to protect benefits for the elderly, like the winter fuel allowance and TV licences, saying: “What will happen in the future will happen in the future”.
He defended the comments to The House, saying: ”I think it would be surprising if a Treasury minister thought otherwise.”