Children’s charities have rejected Tony Blair’s
proposals to cut child benefit from parents of persistent young
offenders and children who truant, writes Clare
A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed the idea was at the
policy development stage and “under active consideration”, adding
that it came from the cross-government group looking at street
The scheme would target “out of control” children whose parents
are taking no action, the spokesperson confirmed. He added that the
government was not frightened to make a controversial decision if
it was the right one, but confirmed details of the scheme needed to
be worked out
But Save The Children accused the government of not
understanding the reality of the lives of children in the UK.
Director general Mike Aaronson said: “Child benefit is exactly
what it says it is – it is supposed to provide direct support
for children’s welfare – at the end of the day such
measures punish no-one but the child.”
“By taking away between £16 and 27 a week from families,
especially those already struggling on a low income could simply
push more children into poverty and simply exacerbate the problems
they are facing,” he added.
Aaronson urged the government to look at introducing measures to
help parents deal with difficult children.
The NSPCC agreed that looking at the causes of truancy would be
more helpful than pushing families into greater poverty.
Rehabilitation agency Nacro agreed the idea was likely to make
matters worse. Head of youth crime Chris Stanley said: “This
measure is not a magic wand to good parenting – parenting
skills cannot be fostered by punitive, short term measures.”
Last week, education secretary Estelle Morris announced a
£66 million package to tackle truancy. The package includes
intensive truancy sweeps, an electronic registration system to pick
up on truancy more speedily, expanded learning support units and
behaviour and education support teams.
Morris announced further this week including police officers
being stationed at schools with high truancy and discipline
problems, in a bid to curb truancy and street crime.