Clegg turns against child benefit

By staff

Nick Clegg has embraced the Conservatives’ anti-benefits agenda as the government launches a childhood and families task force.

The deputy prime minister argued in the Mail that it was “not right” that nine out of ten families with children were eligible for child tax credits.

“Instead we should be giving families much more control over how they live their lives,” he wrote in an article for the Daily Mail newspaper.

Mr Clegg argued the increase in the income tax threshold, originally a Liberal Democrat policy, and reform of the welfare system “to encourage people who can get off benefits into work” were the best ways to achieve this.

The Lib Dems have negotiated an abstention on the marriage tax allowance as part of the coalition agreement, but Mr Clegg signalled his sympathy towards the move.

“I do recognise why others feel so strongly,” he acknowledged, before pressing that it was not the government’s role to “create happy families”.

“Where we can help is by taking down the barriers that stop parents giving their children the best upbringing possible.”

The task force will work on making parental leave more flexible and target “irresponsible advertising” focused at children, Mr Clegg wrote.