Charities alarmed at threat to child benefit for parents of offenders

Children’s charities this week voiced concern over proposals
floated by government to cut child benefit for parents of
persistent young offenders and children who truant.

A 10
Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that the idea, which came
from a cross-government group looking at street crime, was “under
active consideration”.

scheme would target “out of control” children whose parents are not
dealing with the problem, the spokesperson confirmed. He added that
the government was not frightened to make a controversial decision
if it was the right one, though he conceded details needed to be
worked out

But Save
the Children accused the government of failing to understand the
lives of children in the UK.

general Mike Aaronson said: “Child benefit is supposed to provide
for children’s welfare. At the end of the day such measures punish
no one but the child.

away between £16 and £27 a week from families, especially
those already on a low income, could simply push more children into
poverty and exacerbate the problems they are facing,” he added.

urged the government to look at measures to help parents deal with
difficult children.

Child Poverty Action Group described the proposal as short-sighted
and a “knee-jerk reaction to the serious but complex problem of
youth crime,” adding that it did not sit easily with the prime
minister’s pledge to end child poverty.

Rehabilitation agency Nacro agreed the idea was likely to make
matters worse. Nacro spokesperson on youth crime Chris Stanley
said: “Parenting skills cannot be fostered by punitive, short-term

week, education secretary Estelle Morris announced a £66m
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.

week, at a London conference on truancy, Morris announced further
measures including police officers based in and around schools to
address high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour committed by
and against young people.

She said
up to 100 extra officers would be based at schools in the 10 crime
areas identified by the government, as outlined in the Department
for Education and Skills’ School Police Protocol.

have been working effectively in schools for many years and I want
to offer head teachers facing the toughest challenges the chance to
develop a closer working relationship with the police,” Morris

– If you
are interested in children’s services don’t miss Community
Live at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London on
22 and 23 May. There are workshops and debates for children and
families practitioners. Ring 020 8652 4782/4839 for your free

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