THE BLOG

Another Nasty Tory Policy in the Making?

18/12/2013 11:11 GMT | Updated 16/02/2014 10:59 GMT

A Tory MP has floated the idea of only paying child benefit for the first two children of any unemployed people. Those actually in work on less than £30,000 a year would only be given child tax credits, worth £2725, for the first two children they have according to this proposal.

MP, Nadhim Zahawi is quoted as saying "Many couples take the decision to delay having a third or a fourth child until they are sure they can afford it. This should be case for every family, regardless of their income." Other leading Tories have suggested a similar scheme in the recent past - so they seem quite serious about it.

The story is, of course, being linked with reports of families with ten or more children living on benefits. It seems there are around 200 such families - a tiny part of the population but good for a story to stir up hatred of everyone who has children and no job or a low income.

If they really expect this policy to work - that it actually stops poorer people having more children then the Tories leave themselves open to being accused of trying to control the number of poor people who might not vote for them or to controlling their numbers because they simply don't like them.

Certainly they would be attempting to limit the rights of poorer people to do what richer can do - to have more than two children. Do they expect poor mothers to have more abortions should they accidentally become pregnant - is that a good outcome for these Conservatives or is that they simply don't care.

If they don't expect it to encourage unemployed or poorer people to have fewer children then they are simply - and cynically - trying to save money by giving less to poor children and their families. A family with a third child to feed without an increase in income means less for the whole family - they all become poorer. All the children in that family will grow up with fewer opportunities and are more likely to stay in poverty when they get older and more likely to need help for the rest of their lives from the rest of us.

What happens if a family in work decide to have three or more children and then the parents lose their jobs or end up on an income of less than £30,000? Do these same rules apply - benefits for only two children? The Tories had better watch out that could involve their own voters.

It is a nasty policy and can only appeal to people fed on a diet of hatred for poorer people - fed on stories of the tiny minority who do abuse the benefits system.

Feed the hatred and do the nasty thing just to save money. It is the politics of hatred and division and it will leave us less of a Country.

Perhaps, instead, they could stop the Ministry Of Defence overspending by billions on the next hardware project that will probably come in late and deliver less than was required - if it gets finished at all. Or perhaps they could help find the six billion pounds worth of equipment the MOD has lost.

Perhaps the Government can simply forgo the next enormous IT project that will at best waste money or at worse not work at all. But no, it's easier to take money away from the poorest - the people these politicians don't meet socially. Perhaps the Government can become better at negotiating contracts - a failure that has allegedly cost the tax payers some thirty one billion pounds.

Of course these poorer people could make sensible and rational decisions about only having more children when they have the income to support another child. But I suspect that people - rich and poor - make such decisions for many reasons - not always based on their incomes.

Some women of course have fewer choices around contraception than others - those in abusive relationships. There is evidence that some women are coerced or tricked into getting pregnant - what happens to their third child.

The unemployed people could, of course, go off and get a job in the City couldn't they? But it turns out social mobility is still a problem - as David Cameron recently reminded us.

Of course this policy would appeal to many Tory voters - though not all. The Government may be leaking money everywhere but the some Tories are hell bent on stopping poorer families getting money for a third child. There must be more votes in demonising poor people then sorting out the financial competence of the Government.