David Cameron left the symphony hall in Birmingham’s ICC after Boris Johnson’s speech today beaming – and well he might. The prime minister’s most serious rival for the leadership of the Tory party had just delivered an admirably loyal speech – and while it was entertaining and funny, it did not raise the roof in the way Number 10 must have feared.
The London mayor began his speech in the best way possible if his aim was to damp down speculation about him challenging for the top job, with lavish and lengthy praise for the PM:
If we can win in the middle of a recession and wipe out a 17 point Labour poll lead then I know that David Cameron will win in 2015. [Addressing the PM directly] When the economy has turned around and people are benefiting in jobs and growth from the firm leadership you have shown and the tough decisions you have taken.
This blog revealed back in March just before the Budget that George Osborne was considering capping child benefit at a certain number of children per family. At the moment, parents receive £20.30 a week for their first child and £13.40 for each additional child after that, but Treasury officials were looking at stopping those payments once a family had reached a certain number of children.
At the time, the measure was supposed to be an alternative to capping child benefit at a certain income level: the family-size measure would have been easier to implement and involve less of a cliff-edge for
people increasing their earnings. In the end, it was ruled out as too controversial, but judging by George Osborne’s speech at the Tory party conference today, the idea is back on the table. The chancellor said:
How can we justify a system where people in work have to consider the full financial costs of having another child, whilst those who are out of work don’t?