Child benefit payments will be stopped for all higher-rate taxpayers from 2013 to pay for wider reform of the benefits system, George Osborne confirmed today.

The Chancellor said the measure was "difficult but fair" and would raise around £1 billion.

"When we are asking so much of so many people across society, I think it is a fair measure," he told BBC Breakfast ahead of his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

are to be brought together into a single universal credit, under a scheme agreed between Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and the Treasury after a long battle over cuts to the welfare budget which Mr Osborne said would make it "worth going to work" and cut fraud.

But the upfront costs would be paid for by cuts to child benefit for better-off people, he indicated, as he prepares to unveil massive cuts to Whitehall budgets in the spending review on October 20.