In the aftermath of the riots, the idea of withholding child benefit from mothers whose kids played truant was floated by Number 10. The aim was to link child benefit payments to getting your child to attend schools. This was meant to be part of a broader effort to end the something for nothing culture.
Now, 8 months on from the riots — and after months of coalition wrangling — we have some flesh on the bones of this idea. Charlie Taylor, the government’s impressive adviser on behaviour, has proposed (£) that fines for children being persistently truant should be deducted from child benefit payments.
At the moment, head teachers can already fine parents for their children being truant. But with an unwieldy enforcement mechanism, a large proportion of these parents simply don’t pay up. The Taylor proposals will make it far easier for schools to actually enforce these fines and help cut down levels of truanting.