Message from the editors

Welcome to 0-19, the new monthly magazine for all those
professionals working to make a new start for children and young
people. Every month we will bring you news, views, analysis and
practical information vital in your work with children and families
at risk of social exclusion. Whatever your background – in
education, health, social care, or wherever else – we promise that
0-19 will be relevant to your needs. And we will bring you the
latest information direct from Sure Start, Connexions and the
Children’s Fund.

Child poverty is one of the themes of our first issue. How
ironic that in the same week as the Save the Children Fund launched
its Beat Poverty campaign, the Prime Minister should float the idea
of punishing parents whose children truant by docking their child
benefit, or even their housing benefit. The very idea casts doubt
on the prime minister’s understanding of poverty and of the
difficulties that confront parents .

Coming so shortly after the budget delivered new financial help
for families with children, the proposal raises questions about the
government’s – or at least Tony Blair’s – reasons for making the
commitment to end child poverty in 20 years. Child benefit has
always been a universal benefit without strings. More than a
quarter of a century after the benefit was introduced by the late
Barbara Castle, the government is now suggesting that it might be
paid only to parents who meet certain criteria.

Even if the proposal goes no further, it has spelt out the
message that public support for children is part of a bargain with
parents. “Do what we want or lose the money,” seems to be the line.
If the government is serious about abolishing child poverty – and
recent figures show that it still has a long way to go – it must
realise that ideas like this one are the last way to achieve its

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