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FAMILY - child benefit


Shannon's mother, a culture of greed and why we must abolish child benefit

Last updated at 8:54 AM on 08th December 2008

More than 30 years ago, an epic battle took place at the heart of the then Labour government under the premiership of Jim Callaghan.

The controversy surrounded a radical proposal for a new type of welfare benefit which would transfer family subsidies from male breadwinners to mothers.

Opponents of this move from ‘wallet to purse’ were scorned as knuckle-dragging, sexist Neanderthals, and the poverty campaigners eventually won the battle. The new welfare payment was created — and called child benefit.

And we also learned of the horrific serial incest case in Sheffield, where a father repeatedly impregnated his daughters in order to claim child benefit for each successive baby they bore.

While the specific details of that ghastly case are not commonplace, it is clear that child benefit, and all the multifarious other welfare incentives to irresponsibility, are intrinsically linked to the emergence of households where, in truth, civilisation has given way to barbarism.

This week, the Government is to unveil two sets of initiatives which purport to tackle the twin blights of child abuse and welfare dependency. The Children’s and Health Secretaries are to propose a major shake-up of social work to prevent more abused children from falling through the net, while the Work and Pensions Secretary, James Purnell, is to announce what we are told will be ‘eye-watering’ welfare reforms.

We have yet to see the details. But the suspicion is that, once again, these are gimmicks that fail to address the core of the problem.

The Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, says that in future those in charge of local authority children’s services must have worked as teachers, and head teachers to have worked as social workers.

But what use is this when so many schools are grossly failing their pupils? After all, Sharon Shoesmith, the head of Haringey children’s department, whose suspension Mr Balls himself ordered after the Baby P fiasco, had herself been a teacher.

The real agenda seems to be a desire to create an all-purpose child-care professional — thus finally destroying teaching and education, while doing nothing to improve the specific professional skills required for effective social work.

Mr Balls really is an absolute menace: a ministerial guided missile aimed at destroying the bedrock social values of education, family independence and professional integrity.

There are two reasons why social work is failing so catastrophically. The first is the intractable nature, and sheer volume, of the cases that staff have to deal with.

The second is that, for years, social workers have been told they must not make moral judgments. So they are reduced, instead, to ticking off government targets — which often have utterly perverse effects, such as Shannon Matthews being taken off the child protection register to meet the target for reducing the numbers on it.

However much frontline training social workers have will count for little if, presented with obvious signs of neglect or injury, they are incapable of making judgments about people’s behaviour and acting accordingly.

As for welfare policy, James Purnell is talking about tightening up against irresponsible behaviour. But we’ve heard all this before. It looks as if his much- vaunted crackdown will merely boil down to expecting claimants to look for a job or
turn up on training courses, with the so-called cut-off point merely marking a move from one benefit to another.

Most important of all, there seems to be no intention to break the causal relationship
between welfare and mass fatherlessness.

Yesterday, Mr Purnell not only repeated the Government’s rejection of the Tory claim that Britain is a ‘broken society’ but even tried to blame ‘failing families’ on the Tories for creating unemployment during the Eighties.

Mr Purnell himself needs a lesson in accountability. For it is the Labour government which, for more than a decade, has rewarded gross fecklessness and penalised married couples through the tax and benefits system.

The core of the problem is the refusal to make moral judgments between lifestyles, encouraging good behaviour and discouraging the bad.

This replacement of traditional family life by a libertine free-for-all lies at the heart of welfare dependency, which fuels social breakdown. It then, in turn, robs professionals such as social workers or teachers of the means to alleviate that breakdown.

The outcome is a blind eye turned to drugs, crime, brutality and sadism.

All over the country there are moral deserts where children are being raised in households which have severed the links with the principles of principles of civilised life.
Vote: Should child benefit be given only to those able to produce a marriage certificate to discourage single parenthood and the cause of rising crime and educational under-achievement?

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Members Comments

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bubblyian 26-Mar-2010 17:29
Child benefit should be paid equally to both parents, whether together or not. The winner takes all system whereby 100% of the benefits and tax credits associated with having a child go to the main carer 90% of the time the mother is indirect discrimination against dads and one of the main contributing factors in family breakdown and the horrendous state of the family courts.
SWSpartan 13-Nov-2009 11:5
Women in this country have on average two children, and as this is the average, the mother single or married should only be able to claim for two children.

If they decide to have more children which are their prerogative, they should not expect the state to pay for any additional children.

Motherhood is not a job opportunity!
JimBWarrior 18-May-2009 17:48
Sadly its not marriage that produces better Kids - Its Mums and Dads and all 4 Grand Parents with integrity
Andromeda 15-Dec-2008 8:59
I note that "Scamp"describes the abolition of child benefit as as "simplistic", "amateur" etc. I note that he neither has "professional" nor "variably competent" ones to propose. I would like to point out that since the abolition of child benefit has no been implemented it cannot be described as "invariably incompetent" or even "variably competent". There is nothing "impossible to implement" about abolishing child benefit: You just don't just dole it out to all and sundry any more.

It seems that Scamp thinks abolishing child benefit is too radical. That is his opinion, but a half-baked attempt to assert this without suggesting an alternative or be able to substantiate his assertions above, shows the poverty of argument of those who don't know the answer but don't want anything to be done about the problem either.
scamp126 15-Dec-2008 0:29
The points made are sound but the conclusion is too simplistic. Undoubtedly the ideal world that Labour inhabits bears no relation to the one the rest of us have to live in. Even so, the solutions they apply are amateur at best, invariably incompetent and impossible to implement. The dismantling of their crude and inefficient structures, followed by building fair, proportionate and manageable ones will require a great deal more effort and ingenuity than the one proposed here.
augustusgrothier 10-Dec-2008 18:3
The time is clearly upon us all to exercise our rights to directly participate in the government of our country---and kick these stupid, indolence New Labour Bastards out forever before they do more damage.
ROBERTHBROWN 10-Dec-2008 17:2
Simple solution: Just raise the amount you can earn before tax and scrap child benefit altogether.

Children whose parent/parents is claiming state benefits can be taken care of in school time, which would mean they would not suffer, being fed & clothed. As for their parent/parents they would not have this extra child benefit to spend on their own selfish desires. It's a win, win, win situation.
commonsense 24-Aug-2008 12:18
Stop family allowance now, as it is one way that the foreigners milk our Nation dry. Suppose we stopped it now and re introduced National Service see how many of our visitors either stopped coming and how many return home. Stopping FA for unmarried mothers would not help us really the main victims would be British women and children as Asians normally marry and so are our newly arrived friends from Poland who send their allowance home to their wife and family. Stop it altogether and change the way our Women think, its suits the Government to have women drop kids everywhere with different fathers etc. Labour and Tories have someone to attack when considering tax cuts for the rich and also gives our people the guilt trip of thinking we are no better than 3rd world immigrants.
JusticeSeeker 24-Aug-2008 10:23
The main problem is the concentration on material matters or wealth, Prospective parents need to get to know one another, and think about how they plan to bring up their children, what sort of values and ethics they want to try and impart to their children, and not concentrate on how much they can buy their children.
jeffreymarshall 13-Aug-2008 0:45
If child benefit were only payable to those able to produce a marriage certificate, I am not quite clear how – as thornybee believes – this would discourage people from splitting up if they found one another intolerable.

To begin with, supportive solvent parents would – by definition – have no need to rely on the benefit system. But less solvent parents would most likely get married merely to obtain the certificate, which would then act as a key to access benefits.

True single parenthood would be discouraged of course. The otherwise lone parent would instead have to find someone to marry, preferably unemployed –& better still disabled & on a higher level of invalidity benefit - so that her benefits would be unaffected & augmented.

I cannot therefore see how the current parenting combination of unmarried mother + unmarried mother’s mum would be much improved by being added to by a useless unemployed male.

Far better perhaps to reform the entire system of child benefits so that – as Andromeda suggests – they are done away with altogether.

At present there is a great deal of guilt – & government concern – about lifting children out of poverty.

However, I believe children can more profitably be viewed as a potential source of income, as they were in the early 19th century. Children make excellent domestic servants, seamstresses, chimney sweeps (when our coal supplies begin to be used again to replace the dwindling world supply of oil) & even as pickpockets; they can be useful too in manufacturing (deft little fingers).

Putting children to work would also reduce our dependence on immigrant labour.

Children would actually earn their benefits, bringing a satisfying sense of independence at an early age.

Indeed, I wish this scheme had been introduced years ago so I could have benefited from it myself, instead of spending my early years in profligacy & idleness, watching rubbish on children’s television, etc.
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