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Published on October 13th, 2010 | by The Editor
Image © Today’s first meeting between David Cameron and Ed Miliband on Prime Ministers Questions inevitably focussed on the controversial topic of the moment; Child benefits. More specifically, the twobattled over what would constitute a ‘fair’ action. For Ed, it is ‘unfair’ to expect the middle income families to surrender their child benefits while those earning up to £80,000 keep them. For David, it is only‘fair’ to ask those better off to make a contribution to the financial crisis. It seems the two have got themselves into a pickle about what ‘fair’ really means. They can’t both be right. The proposed child benefit cuts can’t be both fair and unfair. At a time when Cameron wants us all to be working towards a ‘fairer’ future, with every person doing their ‘fair’ share to create the ‘Big society’, it is important for us to be clear about what fairness actually is. As Dr Angie Hobbs pointed out on Monday’s Today Programme, fairness is not the same as equality. Fairness comes in giving equality of opportunity, the possibility to make the most of one’s ability through hard work and dedication, regardless of outcome. According to Cameron in an earlier conference, “fairness is giving people what they deserve”. If the proposed benefit cuts are implemented at the spending review in a week’s time, we face a society in which two parent families are entitled to child benefits that single parent families earning significantly less are not; Ed today labelled this ‘unfair’, and I am inclined to agree with him. Here there does not seem to be equality of opportunity. Hard work and dedication will not, if I am a single mother earning over £44,000, entitle me to the benefits I deserve through my hard work; having a husband who earns slightly less than me will. Maybe what Cameron wants to say is that although the proposed benefit cuts are not “fair”, they are the only option in the face of the mess that we are in. But two wrongs don’t make a right, David. Either he must admitthat this is a desperate measure in a desperate time or we must work towards a real concept of fairness. Equally however, if they are ‘unfair’, as Ed maintains, then it is about time he develops a ‘fairer’ solution. Until fair is fair, enough is enough on this debate.

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Fairs Fair? – Ed Miliband’s first PMQs

Today’s first meeting between David Cameron and Ed Miliband on Prime Ministers Questions inevitably focussed on the controversial topic of the moment; Child benefits. More specifically, the twobattled over what would constitute a ‘fair’ action. For Ed, it is ‘unfair’ to expect the middle income families to surrender their child benefits while those earning up to £80,000 keep them. For David, it is only‘fair’ to ask those better off to make a contribution to the financial crisis. It seems the two have got themselves into a pickle about what ‘fair’ really means. They can’t both be right. The proposed child benefit cuts can’t be both fair and unfair. At a time when Cameron wants us all to be working towards a ‘fairer’ future, with every person doing their ‘fair’ share to create the ‘Big society’, it is important for us to be clear about what fairness actually is. As Dr Angie Hobbs pointed out on Monday’s Today Programme, fairness is not the same as equality. Fairness comes in giving equality of opportunity, the possibility to make the most of one’s ability through hard work and dedication, regardless of outcome. According to Cameron in an earlier conference, “fairness is giving people what they deserve”.

If the proposed benefit cuts are implemented at the spending review in a week’s time, we face a society in which two parent families are entitled to child benefits that single parent families earning significantly less are not; Ed today labelled this ‘unfair’, and I am inclined to agree with him. Here there does not seem to be equality of opportunity. Hard work and dedication will not, if I am a single mother earning over £44,000, entitle me to the benefits I deserve through my hard work; having a husband who earns slightly less than me will. Maybe what Cameron wants to say is that although the proposed benefit cuts are not “fair”, they are the only option in the face of the mess that we are in. But two wrongs don’t make a right, David. Either he must admitthat this is a desperate measure in a desperate time or we must work towards a real concept of fairness. Equally however, if they are ‘unfair’, as Ed maintains, then it is about time he develops a ‘fairer’ solution. Until fair is fair, enough is enough on this debate.

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