The government's clawback of child benefit beginning tomorrow has been slammed as a major ideological attack on a universal benefit that will have stark consequences for poorer families.
Up to a million households will lose some or all of their child benefit where at least one parent earns more than £50,000 a year before tax.
Where one parent earns more than £60,000, families will have to return the cash - between £20.30 and £13.40 per child each week - through self-assessed tax returns unless they have already opted out.
But HM Revenue & Customs said that just a quarter of affected households had done so.
The system for recovering the money has proved highly controversial, especially as families where both parents earn just under £50,000 each will keep their payments.
Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator and Labour Representation Committee's joint national secretary Andrew Fisher warned of the ideological impact of the changes.
He told the Morning Star: "Regardless of wealth the changes coming into force tomorrow will undermine it as a universal benefit.
"The moment we take relatively wealthy people out of the benefit it no longer becomes a universal benefit but will be seen by the right-wing as another form of propping up poor families who have children they cannot afford.
"It will create social segregation and it sets the ball rolling for the benefit to be cut back even further."
Meanwhile charity 4Children chief executive Anne Longfield said the universal benefit was "a symbol of the value our society places on children.
"Cutting this support for families where someone earns over £50,000 per year seriously undermines that commitment, especially at a time when others earning similar amounts who do not have children are not being asked to contribute more."
And Chancellor George Osborne was caught off guard as even the Tories' own think-tank savaged plans to axe the universal child benefit.
The right-wing Centre for Social Justice accused the Con-Dems' front bench of punishing parents for marrying - a far cry from PM David Cameron's self-styled "massive" support of marriage.
The body, which was founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, insisted the cuts risked "pouring further fuel on the fire" of family breakdown.
Managing director Christian Guy said the government was effectively creating a "marriage penalty."
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond believes himself vindicated by the High Court ruling that his Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is independent.
A look at the causes and possible outcomes of Silvio Berlusconi and his right-wing coalition's lead in the polls.
Attacks such as yesterday's horrific murder in Woolwich didn't happen before the 'war on terror.' It's time we recognised the consequences of the conflicts we've unleashed