There's speculation in the papers today that the government might cap child benefit. If you already had three children, and have a fourth, you wouldn't get any more child benefit.
We looked at this issue in a YouGov poll a while back.
By more than two to one (66%-27%) people agree that “People who have more than three children should not get extra child benefit if they have a fourth”.
The government are looking for a better way to save money than their current plans to take child benefit away from top earners. The plan is popular overall (58% support it according to a poll in the Sun today). But, as the Prime Minister has acknowledged, there are problems with it as currently drafted. Firstly there is a "cliff edge", because earning £1 over the top rate triggers the loss of the whole benefit. Secondly, there is a couple penalty, because a one earner couple just paying the top rate of tax lose out, while a two earner couple jointly earning more get to keep it, as long as neither partner is above the limit. (This is actually a problem with the whole tax system). Finally there is an administrative problem. If I am getting child benefit and then hook up with a top rate taxpayer, how does the government find out? The potential for fiddling seems strong.
I have written before about a principles-driven benefit cap, and about what counts as fairness when it comes to tax, benefits and children.
It sounds like the government are feeling their way into some very interesting territory.