Population Matters

Limit family subsidies for the environment

Limit family subsidies for the environment

Humanity cannot afford to grow endlessly on a limited planet. This is as good a reason as any for welcoming proposals to limit subsidies for larger families.

A Conservative MP, Nadhim Zahawi, has proposed limiting child benefit and child tax credit to the first two children. He is proposing that this should not be retrospective i.e. families which already have three or more children will continue to be subsidised as they currently do. He has given several reasons for doing so, including eventual savings to the taxpayer of £3-5 billion per annum and encouraging personal responsibility.

Britain has one of Europe’s highest levels of population density, larger families and population growth. Our country is grappling with the problems of growing pressure on housing, transport, education, health, green spaces and the green belt. Infrastructure and other costs of our limited supplies of energy, water and other utilities are rising while we face challenging carbon emission limits if we are to effectively address climate change.

More broadly, wealthy countries such as the UK have a responsibility to seek to moderate our population and consumption levels to ensure sufficient resources for developing countries, biodiversity and future generations. While society is ageing, the issue of supporting older people should be addressed by helping healthy people to work in later life and by reducing unemployment, not by unsustainable population growth.

Commented Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters: “The majority of people in the UK and other developed countries choose to have smaller families. That is better for our environment, our quality of life and future sustainability. We do think it is right to support families in poverty. From a sustainability viewpoint, we do not think large families should be subsidised. We welcome measures to encourage people to choose to have smaller families.”

Nadhim Zahawi, Mail on Sunday 15 December 2013

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