It’s surprising that comments made by the Chief Executive of the children’s charity Barnardo’s, have not received wider coverage in the weekend newspapers. In a press release sent out last week, Anne Marie Carrie suggests that many universal benefits should end in an effort to tackle child poverty. Her exact words are:
Families need financial help, now. There is room for more redistribution of funds, free TV licences, winter fuel allowance and child benefit should be better targeted. By ending these universal benefits and compensating families and pensioners on low incomes so they don’t lose out, £3.9 billion would be left over to help combat the pending catastrophe for the poorest families, pensioners and children.”
Can you imagine the controversy these words would create if uttered by a politician, in particular a Conservative Member of Parliament? They would be headline news for days upon end, as newspaper columnists and media experts call for their head on a platter. Remember the storm of protests when the Coalition Government announced that child benefit would no longer be payable to those on the highest incomes. The Conservatives pledged to protect free TV licences and the winter fuel allowance for pensioners, at the General Election and continue to do so. Yet our work reviewing the whole benefit system is vital, as we look at the best way to target help to the people who need it most.