James Forsyth

Withdrawing child benefit at 16 would be the wrong call

Withdrawing child benefit at 16 would be the wrong call
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In the last few weeks, there has been much speculation that child benefit would be stopped when a child reaches 16. Today’s announcement suggests that this is not going to happen, although the Tories are refusing to rule it out.

If there are to be changes to child benefit — and given the financial situation there need to be — then removing it from households with a higher rate taxpayer is a better move than stopping it at 16.

Child benefit ending at 16 would send out a message that at 16 a child should start earning its way in the world. This would, for obvious reasons, have a negative impact on social mobility as it would likely lead to fewer children staying on at school post 16.