Child benefit row threatens to overrun Tory conference

By Ian Dunt

The row over cuts to child benefits for higher earners is threatening to overrun the Tory party conference, with David Cameron refusing to back down.

George Osborne announced on Monday that parents earning over £44,000 a year individually would not receive the benefit. The plan caused anger and confusion, especially given the party’s focus on families.

Mr Osborne wrote to every Tory MP explaining the move yesterday, suggesting Tory HQ is concerned about its impact on its core support.

“I acknowledge this was not in our manifesto. Of course I’m sorry about that,” Mr Cameron said this morning.

But a YouGov poll suggested 83% of voters backed the move but there was considerable division about how to implement it.

As things stand, a couple both earning just under the £44,000 mark would still receive the benefit, meaning a household with an income of £80,000 would end up receiving extra help while another with a stay-at-home mum or single parents earning just £40,000 would not.

One Tory minister told the Sun his wife was so angry at the proposal that she was planning to vote Labour.

Ed Miliband has not made a statement on the measure yet, and analysts are watching his reaction to get a sense of how he will approach the upcoming comprehensive spending review.

Foreign secretary William Hague said the move was “tough but fair”.

Speaking to ITV1’s Daybreak this morning, he said: “I think it is right to do what we are embarking on.”