George Osborne has announced that from 2013 those in the 40% and 50% tax brackets will no longer receive child benefit. This move is expected to raise about £1 billion for the Treasury.

So, those families with one breadwinner earning over some £44,000 will be affected in a change that Mr Osborne calls 'difficult but fair'.

The money raised by this will be used as kick-start funding for the new single universal credit thrashed out between the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and the Treasury aimed at making it 'worth going back to work'.

At present parents receive £20.30p for the first child every week and £13.40p for each subsequent child.

But what do they mean by high earners? Is this based on each individual or on total household income? An income of £87,999 in a household with children can be earned by anything between a single income and the joint wages of two people each a smidgeon below the threshold. Can that be fair that a family becomes penalised for having one high earner in it?

Child benefit is also paid to families abroad (such as in Poland), how is that going to be monitored? Or does it apply to the UK only?

This is good in concept as the aim should be to remove the benefits in these straitened times from those that will not miss it. But unless it is seen to be scrupulously fair as well as leaving no loopholes for some to keep receiving it then it will fall at the first fence of public opinion and doom any future policies of this nature.

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