Higher Child Benefit for "better parents"?

Submitted by Matthew on 4 August, 2011 - 4:12

A report by a think tank linked to the Lib Dems has suggested that parents who pass a parenting test should be paid more in Child Benefit.

Those who can show they have completed a "five-a-day" programme - reading with their child for 15 minutes, playing for 10 minutes, talking with the television off for 20 minutes, giving praise and providing a nutritious diet - should it suggests receive extra money on top of their Child Benefit.

CentreForum which produced the report describes itself as "an independent, liberal think tank" but in reality has close links to Lib Dem members of the Government including Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and David Laws. Lib Dem Children's minister Sarah Teather welcomed the proposals and said they would be looked at as part of the Government's "parenting strategy".

The report's author, ex-City lawyer Chris Paterson, argues that studies have shown wealthier parents spend more time reading and talking to their children. His conclusion: give them more money!

That overworked and underpaid working-class parents have less time and money to spend with and on their children than better off ones is hardly a radical discovery.

This proposal further exposes the anti-working class instincts of the Lib Dems - who meanwhile are happily cutting Sure Start centres and libraries alongside their Tory coalition partners - and makes a mockery of their criticising the "nanny state" when they want the Government to monitor the time parents spend with their children.

The link between access to books or a decent diet in childhood and educational achievement is of course a class issue. Any Government serious about improving the lives of working-class kids would attack the roots of poverty and inequality by legislating for a living minimum wage, a shorter working week and longer holidays and tax the rich to invest in education and decent childcare.