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Frank Field on Child Poverty

45 replies

Chil1234 · 11/06/2010 14:43

Reform of Child Benefits

Very interesting article. The reason I like Labour MP Frank Field is that he often provides a different perspective on an issue. The man charged with 'thinking the unthinkable' but then stomped on from a great height by the New Labour hierachy is putting forward some fresh thinking on how to tackle child poverty for the coalition government.

One suggestion is to tax Child Benefit and another is to withdraw it completely once the chid hits 13. Even more interesting is the suggestion that it's not purely 'money' that keeps children down but lack of life chances as well. Simple things like children being ready for school... able to use a toilet themselves, hold a crayon, manage a knife and fork. No matter how much money your family is given, if you can't hit these age-related markers you've got an uphill battle.

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TheCoalitionNeedsYou · 11/09/2010 09:20

I don't think the idea of frontloading benefit is necessarily either sexist or anti-wohm - though the way it is being presented maybe. In theory, the Money could equally be used for a father to stay at home or for childcare, but policy would need to support these options.

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TheCoalitionNeedsYou · 11/09/2010 09:22

bdsm - his race had no bearing in his sexism though surely?

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BelleDameSansMerci · 11/09/2010 09:28

TheCoalition no, it doesn't. No bearing at all.

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Anifrangapani · 11/09/2010 09:29

The article makes no mention of HOW to get parents to be 5*.

I had a chat to a professor who is doing a study at Leicester Uni about how to engage people in communities - and thus improve the life chances of all the people. He was interested in how people in our parish (local goernment not church) seemed to have better life chances than in neighbouring parishes. It seemed to boil down to a feeling that children were the responsability of all the people in the parish. Also we have a lot of people who are prepared to manage projects for the good of the village. Because people are willing to look beyond their own front gate they can identify opportunities for everyone. So the rich kids have the same opportunity in terms of networking as the poor kids. The problem is we can't say that people come to the village because they already hold these views or because these view are infectious.

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animula · 11/09/2010 11:38

Oh dear. I can see the rationale for some of his suggestions but also think that it's going to be a bit pear-shaped when going hand in hand with a government committed to simply cutting public expenditure.

The front-loading benefit particularly worries me. It's simply sexist to encourage mothers (and it will be mothers, overwhelmingly) to stay home for the first five years unless you (somehow) transform the current employment landscape so that taking a huge break doesn't knacker your chances of future employment.

It may well be a fab idea to make it financially viable for mothers to stay home in the early years, but, realistically, you do that in the current set-up and you will discover that you are totally shafted when you try to get back into the job market (when the children are older).

So it needs to be accompanied by lots of other interventions and legislation, around employment of women, away from "poverty" and "children", and intervening in the private (and public) employment sectors, which this government really is not interested in, and in fact is probably, actively, anti-.

There's lots more I'd like to say, but that really is a long enough post already!!

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animula · 11/09/2010 11:47

I can't help it ...

Isn't is odd that (state) education is, again, going to be a means of delivering (part of) this?

In this instance, with parenting courses (and, covertly, "acceptable human behaviour" wrapped up in that,) being delivered through the national curriculum.

Surely it is time we had a really grown up discussion about this? Is it appropriate that education, in fact schools is the forum for this? Why? Is it appropriate for all children? Why? Will schools be given a budget for this? Will all schools get the same budget for this? (Because it's quite likely some schools would have to do more teaching, some less).

I'm (genuinely) not anti- the idea of this, at all. I think the idea is interesting, and quite possibly necessary and good. Who knows? But I find it odd that there is so much packed into it, and it's not being discussed. As Chili said earlier, there is a big thing about schools picking up responsibilities (some) parents used to carry out. And I do think we need to discuss the implications of that a little more.

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TheCoalitionNeedsYou · 11/09/2010 13:19

Schools are doing it because it's the only place almost all children go.

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TheCoalitionNeedsYou · 11/09/2010 13:25

Schools aren't just for education, they also provide child care, and social services.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 13:32

Any chance of a link to the article so I can have a good old rant?

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 13:34

Oh you have to pay to read it. No chance Grin

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MollieO · 11/09/2010 13:39

This is the report in the Telegraph. No mention of bad mums though.

I'd be happy with shorter summer hols. As a full time working single parent with no childcare support I find planning ds's summer holidays an absolute nightmare. This year I started planning at the beginning of May to ensure that I had everything organised for July.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 13:45

Yes am also interested to read the bits about women having to stay at home.

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animula · 11/09/2010 14:09

Coalition - wrt schools providing childcare and social services, primarily because school is the place where the state can access most children (education being compulsory, and state education being the place where most dc are educated,).

That is, I think, the thing that needs more discussion. Clearly, some schools are going to have to provide more of that than others; need is not evenly distributed.

Is school, really, the most appropriate place? Or is it just the easiest? what are the effects of this? Have we (parents, educators) been asked? Has it been fully acknowledged, and thus proper frameworks (and funding) set in place?

I think I already see a lot of schools being asked to do a lot of work, for which they get inadequate recompense and recognition.

That's why I think there should be more of a public discussion about this.

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EdgarAllInPink · 11/09/2010 14:21

surely he problem with the old definition of poverty was lifting all kids out of it was an unachievable aim?

as 60% pc of median income could be/ become a reasonble income to live off.

whereas if you benchmark specific targets that makes it both easier to mesure (as the stndard measured against is no longer fluid) and attainable.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 14:44

Some of teh schools in deprived areas around here have a wealth of additional help for parents, there are sorts of inititives aimed at them. And they are funded.

Community cohesion efforts, familiarising people with the NHS and things like vaccination programs, putting people in the schools who can help get people back to work, running IT lessons, coffee mornings for different community groups, ESOL, you name it.

I think the thinking is that here you have a "captive audience" of otherwise hard to reach people, and so to chuck everything you can at them while you have the opportunity, in the hope that something sticks.

I don't think it's a bad idea myself, as long as it isn't the teachers having to do it. Primary schools are a community hub, utilising that isn't an intrinsically bad thing IMO

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GabbyLoggon · 11/09/2010 14:53

Frank Field is an interesting cove politically; but I dont know if his ideas are practical or even likely to be acted on

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Chil1234 · 11/09/2010 14:55

'cove'?.... Which bit of the thirteenth century are you in, pray tell sirrah?

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Xenia · 11/09/2010 14:58

I wish he could try to use sexually neutral terms like parents then not mothers. It just enhances the view of people that women sort out childcare and fathers have no responisbility to look after children.


What about front loading benefits but only letting fathers have them not mothers? That might help get more women round the cabinet table and into work and even things out better in terms of sexism.

Anyway because of what he's come out with in this recession he won't get it. We don't have the funds to front load benefits at the moment, just to remove them.

I have argued that a universal payment to all adults including working mothers on my income, pensioners and the disabled would be cheap and fair coupled with abolitino of all housing benefit and other benefits. That would enable fathers (or even mothers if they were foolish enough to think it was sensible to stay at home) to stay at home if they chose but not penalise those of us who work.

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TheCoalitionNeedsYou · 11/09/2010 16:07

I think there is something to be said for the idea that relative poverty is not the problem per se. but the effects of relative poverty is. This potentially opens up the possibility of new solutions. But only potentially. And measuring it is really hard.

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TheCoalitionNeedsYou · 11/09/2010 16:10

National Income FTW.

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