UK's Conservatives pledge to restore child benefit for higher earners

Commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Conservatives said they would restore full child benefit payments for households with an income up to 120,000 pounds ($153,000) helping 700,000 families if they win an election on July 4.

The party, which is trailing Labour by around 20 points in opinion polls, framed the policy change as a tax cut worth an average of 1,500 pounds for the families affected.

Tax has dominated the election debate since the Conservative and Labour leaders went head-to-head on TV on Monday. Conservative Prime Minster Rishi Sunak repeatedly said Labour would increase taxes by 2,000 pounds for each family, a claim Labour branded a lie.

Child benefit, worth 25.60 pounds a week for the first child and 16.95 pounds for each additional one, starts being clawed back through a tax charge from families in which one parent earns over 60,000 pounds.

The new policy would double the threshold but consider total household income rather than that of each parent, which the Conservatives said would end a penalty on single parents and households where one parent earns much more than the other.

The change would cost 1.3 billion pounds in 2029/30, they said, and would be funded by clamping down on tax avoidance.

It was the Conservatives under then-Prime Minister David Cameron who introduced the policy of withdrawing the benefit from higher rate taxpayers in 2013.

Labour said the announcement adding to Sunak's list of "desperate and unfunded policies that he knows can't be delivered".

"Rishi Sunak clearly wants to pretend the last 14 years didn't happen, because almost all his policies reverse decisions his own party has taken," a Labour spokesperson said.

($1 = 0.7824 pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Peter Graff)