Limiting child benefits and tax subsidies to the first two children would help crowded Britain.
- Britain has one of the highest birth rates in Europe, despite the recent decline.
- Britain also has one of Europe’s highest proportions of families with three or more children.
- England is one of Europe’s most densely populated countries.
- UK population growth is one of Europe’s highest.
- Population growth is affecting housing availability, infrastructure costs, access to health and education, and housing and transport overcrowding. The growth threatens green spaces, food, water and energy security and contributes to air pollution and carbon emissions.
Two recent think tank reports have proposed limiting child benefit:
- the Institute for Public Policy Research proposes freezing it for school age children to help fund childcare; and
- Policy Exchange proposes reducing the benefit in real terms and capping it after four children to reduce welfare costs.
Population Matters’ position is that support should be based on need rather than family size and thus that the state should not automatically provide child-related payments or tax breaks after the first two, while ensuring that children are protected from living in poverty.
Our own research shows that there is majority support for such a change.
Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented, “Policy around family subsidies should be about more than saving money. Instead, we should use it to promote a more sustainable small-family model. Capping benefits and tax credits at the second child for environmental and sustainability reasons would send a clear message to prospective parents. Phasing in the change and supporting families in need would ensure that there are no serious adverse impacts from the change.”