Alliance parties split over child allowance proposal

Alliance parties split over child allowance proposal
A proposal by Centre Party leader and Minister of Energy Maud Olofsson to introduce means testing for child allowance payments (barnbidrag) doesn’t have the support of her Alliance government partners at the Moderate Party.

“It increases disincentives to work and makes it less profitable to work more, for example if someone wanted to go from part time to full time work,” said the chair of the Riksdag’s social insurance committee Gunnar Axén of the Moderate Party.

The Moderates have the same basic approach as the Social Democrats, calling for child allowance payments to go to all children as a part of Sweden’s general welfare policies.

“But we have other welfare payments which are means tested, so it’s not that we are opposed to the idea in principle. The main objection is that means testing creates disincentives to work and goes against a work first policy,” said Axén.

Olofsson presented her suggestion for means testing in an interview with the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

“It’s clear that many people are wondering why every high wage earner should receive child allowance payments,” she told the newspaper.

Member of the Riksdag and chair of the Centre Party women’s group Annika Qarlsson has presented a similar proposal earlier.

“There is reason to look at this in connection with our wishes to implement different tax reforms and tax policy reforms,” said Olofsson.

Thomas Östros, economic spokesperson for the Social Democrats, thinks that Olofsson’s proposal is a declaration of war against basic welfare.

“Child allowance payments have been a corner stone for family policy for a long time. It’s as obvious as not having to pay for school based on one’s income that child allowance payments should not be means tested,” said Östros.

The fact that child allowance payments go to every child irrespective of their parents’ income has resulted in a wide participation in the welfare system, explained Östros.

“It means that one can take out more taxes from those with high incomes,” he said.