‘Slashing support for families’: Tories deny ‘secret’ £8bn child benefit cut

Britain's Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)

Britain’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)

The Conservatives have denied they are planning to cut welfare by a further £8 billion, as revealed on Thursday by Liberal Democrat Treasury minister Danny Alexander, saying the measures are “definitely not” part of post-election policy.

The sweeping cuts were
exposed by Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the
Treasury, in Thursday’s Guardian. He claimed the four most senior
Tory ministers were handed a document called “Welfare Reform
Quad Summer Reading Pack”
in June 2012, in which plans for
deep cuts to child benefit and child tax credit were laid

The proposals included limiting child benefit to two children,
means testing for child benefit and removing the higher rate of
benefit for the first child.

A Tory spokesperson said the plans were “definitely not”
party policy.

“This set of policies was never proposed or supported by the
prime minister and chancellor and would never be proposed or
supported by the prime minister and chancellor.”

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“This is desperate stuff from Liberal Democrats who are now
willing to say anything to try and get attention,”
he added.

The Conservatives have, however, previously said they wish to cut
a further £12 billion from the welfare bill, but have refused to
lay out plans for further benefit cuts before the general
election on May 7.

“I am lifting the lid on this now because the Conservatives
are trying to con the British people by keeping their planned
cuts secret until after the election,”
Alexander said in a

“It’s clear from our time in government that the Tories
target will be slashing support for families.”

“They now ask the British people to trust them when they make
unfunded pledges on health and tax, yet they won’t tell us how
they will cut welfare for millions of families to pay for their
plans. They may give with one hand, but they will take away twice
as much with the other.”

He added: “For five years, I won battle after battle to stop
the Tories veering off to the right with ideological cuts and it
has been worth it to keep the economy on track while ensuring a
fairer society.”

Conservative MP Michael Gove denied the claims and echoed the
spokesperson’s claim, saying the Tories would not go further than
freezing tax credits.

“We’re going to freeze them for two years, we are not going
to cut them,”
he said.

A Liberal Democrat source said the party had exposed the
dangerous levels of Tory cuts planned by a potential government.

“The measures set out in the document would have raised over
£8 billion – and shines a light on the scale of the cuts to
working age welfare support the Tories will need to make to
deliver on their cuts to welfare.

“Whilst the Tories refuse to make their cuts public it is
clear they have already done the thinking. If this is what they
were capable of proposing in 2012, this is what they will be
planning in 2015. It’s really important political leaders should
be held to account on this in the last TV debate of the election.
The public need the full picture to make the judgment.”

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