Fine the feckless?

John Howson

There are reports in the media that Michael Gove wants to deduct fines imposed on parents of those pupils not attending school from child benefits. This policy was suggested earlier in the coalition by a Conservative adviser, but blocked by the Liberal Democrats. Presumably, this revival of the idea could be designed to prevent UKIP announcing it as a policy ahead of the Conservatives.

As a headline it no doubt resonates with groups that feel you shouldn’t get something for nothing, and part of the contract in receiving state benefits is that you play your part; in this case ensuring your offspring go to school regularly. From the opposite perspective it looks like punishing the child by reducing family income, often already low in real terms, because of the actions of the parents. The sins of the fathers or in this case possibly even the mothers, being transferred to the…

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