Saturday, February 7, 2009

Prudence is a criminal and will be suitably punished.

If you have children and you choose to live on less than 60% of the national average income - or even feel you have no choice - this now counts as 'child neglect'. You might have developed (or always known) an especially prudent way of living which means that you and your children are short of nothing. You might prefer to invest your time in your children rather than being out at work all hours, but none of that matters to the people who make our laws and nor will it to those who try to enforce them.

This [opens pdf] document announces the systematic roll-out of an 11-year legislative process which is designed to single out and intervene in all families falling below a certain income level.

The level is high by my standards: way too high. If you are a couple with two children under the age of 14, you will need to be earning £270 per week - after income tax, council tax and housing costs have been deducted, where housing costs include rents, mortgage interest (but not the repayment of principal), buildings insurance and water charges. So if you're paying the average mortgage cost of £132 per week, average council tax of £24 per week and water charges of another tenner or so, you will need to net about £436 per week. Add income tax onto that, and we're looking at, what? A gross salary of £29K. If your annual gross income exceeds that, you are safe from this programme - for now. (A single parent of two children under the age of 14 needs to be earning £189 per week, after income tax, council tax and housing costs have been deducted, where housing costs include rents, mortgage interest (but not the repayment of principal), buildings insurance and water charges.) - Source.

If your Child Tax Credits bring you up to that kind of income, I'm afraid you still won't be exempt. Any families in receipt of any kind of State benefit are included also.

The paper sets out the government's naked agenda:

The Government believes that every parent who could work, should do so.

Digging your vegetable plot doesn't count as work. Fixing your wind turbine doesn't count as work. Raising and teaching your children does not count as work.

The Government will provide all families with a clear route out of poverty. On the other side of this contract, we look to families to make a commitment to improve their situations where they can, to do the best for their children’s well-being and development, and to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. That is why the Government is increasing the expectations that we place on parents in receipt of state support.

I want to see the stick, please. What happens if we refuse to comply? There's only one thing they can do in persistent cases of 'child neglect' isn't there?

Remove the children.