The latest crazy scheme, coming on top of the soon to be introduced benefits cap for families, is to stop additional benefits being paid when a family has more than two children.
In a garbled interview on the Today Programme this morning, the Work and Pensions Secretary appeared not to know how many families would be affected by these plans or whether the changes would save any money. Instead the idea was presented as a moral crusade to stop the poor from breeding.
He failed to distinguish whether these new rules would apply to unemployed families, those on sickness or disability benefits, or those in work, but on low wages. Under Universal Credit all those on any form of benefit are to face the same conditionality rules, unless all adults in a household are earning the equivalent of 35 hours at minimum wage.
Under the family planning policies in China parents can be fined for having more than one child. This has led to thousands of children abandoned to grow up in state institutions, soaring abortion rates and horrific child poverty. The one child policy has been steadily watered down in China over the years, yet Iain Duncan Smith is now planning similar economic penalties for mothers who become pregnant in the UK.
Like so much of this Government’s attacks, it will be women and children themselves who will bear the brunt of these moralistic cost cutting measures. Women who are widowed, divorced or separated will be forced into extreme poverty along with their children, should they happen to exceed the government approved family size. Women who have an unplanned pregnancy will now be forced to choose between bringing a child up in poverty or abortion. Those who have multiple births may be forced into choosing which of their babies to give away for adoption.
Iain Duncan Smith’s plans amount to a denial of nature. In his tiny mind all pregnancies are meticulously planned and everybody lives in cosy two parent families whose circumstances never change. As anyone in the real world knows, this kind of chocolate box existence is not the reality for many people.
It is unsurprising, if perverse that an old fashioned patriarch like Iain Duncan Smith should seek to destroy the lives of women and children first. Don’t expect any chivalry from this dated old clown.
It will be children themselves who pay the highest price for these constant attacks on the families with least. Children who are already growing up in poverty will see household incomes further slashed, if their impoverished parents are able to keep hold of a household. Up to 50,000 families in London alone could be made homeless when the benefit cap is introduced next April. But even this is not enough for Iain Duncan Smith. Tough on babies, tough on the causes of babies appears to the new direction of this toff Government.