Gove says parents of truanting children could have child benefit stopped

Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove has suggested that parents who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly could have their child benefit payments stopped.

Gove spoke at the Onward centre right think tank. He said the idea was originally considered by the coalition government under David Cameron. However, this was blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

Gove stated that in the case of truanting or persistent absenteeism, these activities often lead to ‘involvement in antisocial behaviour’.

He went on to say that one of the ideas that was ‘floated in the coalition years’ is the idea that if children are persistently absent, the child benefit should be stopped.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, responded to Gove’s comments, saying: “Not only is this wrong, it is also likely to be counter-productive. It is very hard to see how consigning children to poverty and starvation will improve their school attendance.

“School staff are already deeply concerned by how many children are living in poverty and the impact that has on their academic performance and wellbeing.

“Persistent absence can only be successfully tackled by offering help, not punishment. What is needed are more support services and resources for schools to work with families and to refer to when there are issues.”

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