Cutting child benefit for poor school attendance is ‘Tory’ think

Enda Kenny’s new minority Government has been accused of copying the British Tories – by considering cuts to Child Benefit for parents who don’t send their children to school.

The plans could the parents of children who do not reach a certain level of attendance in schools being financially penalised.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy has told Newstalk this morning the proposals under the Programme for Government are inspired by the “British Tories.”

The Left TD said the plans reminded him of other Tory policies of trying to ‘force’ disabled people to work.

“I think it doesn’t make any sense in dealing with problems in our society,” Murphy said.

“There is no question poor school attendance leads to anti-social problems, but punishing parents pushing them further in to poverty doesn’t make any sense.”

Last year 10 parents were jailed for not sending children to school, while nine were fined.

Any move to connect child benefit to school attendance is likely to be viewed with hostility by parents across the country.

“It should be treated as a universal benefit and we should encourage through education and support children going to school,” Murphy said.

The section in the Government documents state the plans would address the “poor attendance within some families.”

In 2013, British Revenue introduced plans threatening tens of thousands of families with hefty fines on top of losing their child benefits after they missed a deadline to apply for a tax return.

This shows the Irish move could have been inspired by British thinking.

During the General Election Fine Gael sought advice from the Tories on how to win the election.

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in a position now where it is thought he must look more towards seeking the mandate of the people.

Mr Kenny’s position politically has changed dramatically in recent months after Fine Gael failed to achieve enough votes to secure a Government.

After four votes to finally clinch the title of Taoiseach for the second time, Mr Kenny must now discuss any proposals in detail with cross party support.

And with a recent public backlash against water charges and a forced suspension of bills – the Government as a whole will be very aware of the necessity to seek a mandate from the public.



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