Facing David Cameron at the dispatch box for the first time since becoming Labour leader, Miliband said hundreds of thousands of families with one stay at home parent would be unfairly affected by the plans.
He said: “Hundreds of thousands of families... are asking this: why should a family on £45,000 where one person stays at home lose their child benefit... but a family on £80,000 where both partners in a couple are working should keep their child benefit?”
Miliband, who had been expected to perform badly by some Tory strategists, said the changes would amount to a 6p rise in income tax for a family with three children on a post-tax income of £33,000, who would lose £2,500 under the plans.
Cameron retorted that Miliband had “suddenly discovered” middle-income families, who he said were hammered by Gordon Brown, and claimed that “Red Ed” owed his job to the trade unions. However, the Prime Minister was visibly rattled by Miliband and put in a much less assured performance than normal.