More than a million better-off families will lose some or all of their child benefit, under changes which came into force at midnight.
Families with one parent earning more than £50,000 lose part of their child benefit and it will be fully withdrawn where one parent earns above £60,000. The government hopes to save £1.5bn a year to help reduce the deficit.
David Cameron described the move as “fundamentally fair” but Labour said it was a “huge assault” on families. Defending the policy, the prime minister said: “I’m not saying those people are rich, but I think it is right that they make a contribution. “If we don’t raise that… from that group of people – the better off 15% in the country – we would have to find someone else to take it from.”
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the government should tax the richest, rather than make changes that affect those on middle incomes, and described the changes as a “complete shambles”.
Nearly 200,000 high earners have already opted out of receiving child benefit but several hundred thousand others who missed a deadline to declare they will no longer qualify will now have to fill in self-assessment tax forms.
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