Conservative pledge to double child benefit threshold welcomed by SoR

The proposed change to allow households making up to £120,000 per year to retain benefits matches calls from within the Society membership

Published: 10 June 2024 Government & NHS

The Conservative Party has promised to double the pay threshold at which child benefit payments start to be taxed, meaning households on less than £120,000 will retain benefits.

This matches calls from the SoR and proposals put forward at the Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) earlier this year and has been welcomed by the Society. 

Ahead of the General Election on 4 July, the Conservative Party has said that if it wins it will change child benefit rules so household income is taken into consideration, rather than just individual income.   

Under the proposed changes, families will save on average £1,500 a year. 

'Unfairly penalised'

Previously, the weekly child benefit payment would be reduced gradually until one parent earns £60,000, before disappearing altogether at £80,000.

The proposed change, which the Conservatives said would be implemented if the party wins the General Election next month, also applies the threshold to households, rather than individual parents. Currently, if two parents earn £59,000 each, they receive full child benefit, but if one earns £80,000 and the other is unemployed they would receive nothing.

Motions raised at the SoR's ADC (15-17 April 2024) said NHS workers are being “unfairly penalised” by child benefits thresholds, and called for the Society to lobby government to reintroduce a universal payment per child, no matter how much parents earn.

'A legacy from austerity'

Dean Rogers, director of industrial strategy at the SoR, said: “This move reflects SoR calls and lobbying following a motion being passed at our Annual Delegate Conference in April. The SoR are encouraged that our arguments during our industrial action around the workforce crisis are resonating prominently.

“The child benefit thresholds are a legacy from the austerity coalition. As our debate in April highlighted, their application is unfair and impacts NHS recruitment and retention. They are part of a shift over 15 years towards increasing marginal taxes for people who would never have been considered high earners when the thresholds were introduced.

Mr Rogers explained this shift has “disproportionately impacted public sector professionals,” who’s pay has fallen throughout the period these thresholds have been in place.

He added that “they should already have been removed completely.”

'Workforce crisis'

“Whoever is elected will need to find a solution to the public sector workforce crisis,” Mr Rogers continued. “Reducing marginal tax rates for public sector professionals can be part of a strategic approach to addressing pay restoration. Increasing our members' basic take home pay will help address the recruitment and retention crisis across our professions.”

This is a key priority in the Radiography Manifesto, launched earlier this year, which calls on political parties to: commit to inflation-proof pay awards and pay restoration to 2008 levels; ensure increasing demand can be met with strategic workforce planning; enable people to enter, develop and progress within the radiography profession.

It also calls for government to ensure safe working practices, adequate staffing numbers and a skills mix in all areas of radiography and provide adequate funding for a world-class health and social-care system throughout the UK.

Mr Rogers concluded: “After the election, we will continue our efforts to influence any new government, offering to work in constructive partnership to implement the changes needed to solve the NHS crisis. Our members and patients need us to continue making a difference. They need and deserve better from our politicians.”