The BBC report on the UK Chancellor’s decision to axe child benefits from top-rate taxpayers. Rates in Ireland are approximately 150 per child per month (but vary with family size) and are paid universally regardless of family income for each child aged under 16 or under 18 and in full-time education. Like any universal payment of this nature, there is the obvious question as to why people on higher incomes should be receiving a transfer payment from the state. A less obvious question is what we mean by higher incomes and where the threshold should be set. Expenditure on this scheme is approximately 2.3 billion euro in Ireland. Those arguing to keep the benefit as it stands might question why we will end up subsidising John Terry’s wages (see Karl’s post below) while cutting benefits from mothers and children. I am not sure I have an answer to that one either. If we do have to cut, then I would rather it be from people like me with above average salaries and for schemes like child benefit that don’t have an obvious reason to be universal rather than from well-targeted schemes.