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U.K. scraps child benefit for big earners

A British one pound coin is pictured in London.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Britain is the first big economy to tackle its budget deficit by cutting public spending. Perhaps showing the U.S. what it could face as it tries to move closer to a balanced budget. Now the British government announced it would scrap a welfare benefit paid to everyone whether they need it or not.

From London, here's Marketplace's Stephen Beard.


STEPHEN BEARD: Every family in Britain can claim a benefit to help them bring up their kids -- around $30 a week for the first-born, $20 a week for every subsequent child. You can claim it whether you're rich or poor.

But finance chief George Osborne says that with a huge budget deficit, this is something Britain can no longer afford. He's scrapping child benefit for anyone who earns over $68,000 a year. Speaking at his annual party conference, Osborne said the move is regrettable, but necessary.

GEORGE OSBORNE: In much better times, you wouldn't have to take a decision like this. But we have had to take it and we think it's fair. And it shows that all parts of our society -- including those who are better off -- will make a contribution.

Supporters of these benefits for all say they make it less humiliating for the needy to claim them. But more of these universal handouts are likely to get the chop, like free bus passes for everyone over the age of 60 and an allowance to pay for winter fuel.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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