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PLAN TO AXE BENEFITS FOR TRUANTS' PARENTS IS SHELVED

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Every parent in England is to receive a warning not to let their children miss school, in what is an embarrassing c...
Every parent in England is to receive a warning not to let their children miss school, in what is an embarrassing climbdown on plans to axe child benefit from parents of truants, reported The Observer (p15).

The message will be sent out this month, in the same envelope as letters trumpeting a rise in child benefit due next spring - hopefully, linking the issues in parents' minds.

However, plans to cut benefits for parents of truants have been dropped. Critics said that writing to all parents - the vast majority of whose children do attend school - was a waste of time and money. Ministers were accused of a 'face-saving' exercise to salvage the ghost of Downing Street's idea.

The leaflet from the Department for Education and Skills will go to all parents, even those of under-fives. It will include information on childcare. 'It is about rights and responsibilities. If they get that message, then that is a good thing', said a DfES official.

Chief among the opponents of any truancy-related cut to child benefit was the then work and pensions secretary Alistair Darling. His successor, Andrew Smith, is said to be no more enthusiatic and the new education secretary, Charles Clarke, is also opposed. Instead, the government has announced plans to issue on-the-spot fines to punish parents of truants.
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