Boris Johnson has welcomed the axing of child benefit for wealthier families, confessing it was as likely his share was spent on "10 half-decent ski holidays" as it was on his children.

On Monday more than a million families will lose some or all of their child benefit after new rules came into effect as part of a government effort to save £1.5bn a year.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph today, the London mayor said he had calculated he and his wife had received £47,547.40 in child benefit over the last 20 years.

He attacked the "absurd system whereby low-income people paid in their taxes for richer families to receive this Mussolini-like reward for procreation".

"It would be fatuous to claim that this cash has all been spent on essentials for the kids," he said. "We’re looking at 10 half-decent ski holidays here, or about five luxury safaris. We could have laid down a cellarful of Chateau Lafite, or picked up an Old Master drawing, or a share of a lovely little place in Spain."

However Labour's shadow exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Catherine McKinnell, said the coalition's plan was "perverse and unfair".

Writing on The Huffington Post UK today, she said: "Single earner families on £50,000 will have their child benefit cut while some couples earning as much as £100,000 keep all of theirs.

"If the government wants the highest earners to pay their fair share, they should cancel the top rate tax cut for people earning over £150,000 this April. And if they really want to get the benefits bill down, they should start getting our economy moving again and help get people who are long-term unemployed back to work."

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