Universal Credit, which provides cash benefits if you are on a low income or out of work, has been often mentioned in the Press. The major issue has been that the allowances are paid at the end of the month rather than at the beginning. The consequence in many cases is that recipients fall into debt. They can get loans from various commercial organisations but the rates of interest are huge. And then they may find themselves in a cycle of debt from which there is no easy way out.
But today I want to look at another issue. Not surprisingly, parents with dependent children get benefits for these. But the situation has changed. I quote the officialese: “If your children were born before 6 April 2017, you will be able to claim for them all. If one or more of your children were born on or after 6 April 2017, you will only be able to claim for the first two unless you had a multiple birth or have adopted.”
Many people would agree with that. Why should couples have endless children at the expense of all of us? Their poverty may not be their fault but that is no excuse when there are plenty of ways to avoid pregnancy. Others would argue that the threat of global warming is highly relevant. The more the children the more the population – and so, the more consumers, the more the warming. So far I have not yet heard the argument that abortion is a virtue in its contribution to protecting our climate. But I daresay that will come.
It would seem that, leaving aside the demands of poverty, any family who has more than two children is damaging society. Do we agree with these arguments? If we do I am in a sticky position: not only do I have five children but I have several grandchildren and a swiftly growing number of great grandchildren. (Twenty-three descendants so far.) The older ones have had, or are having, fine and important careers, but that make no difference: I am clearly responsible for too many consumers.
What do you think?