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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Are baby bonds a good idea?
The government has unveiled plans for every new baby born in the UK to be given up to £800 pounds in a trust fund.
Under the proposals a lump sum will be given to all babies, rich and poor, to be invested in stocks or savings accounts until they become adults.
It's the government's latest "big idea" to help out families and alleviate child poverty.
But some opposition MPs have described the proposed scheme as a "con" timed purely for the expected election in June.
Do you think baby bonds are a good idea?
Will they be a welcome financial boost for your child's future or could the money be better spent in other ways? Do you think the pledge is just plain electioneering?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
They are a great idea - we could all use these "baby bonds" and hopefully try against all the odds to use these funds to pay for our children's education, since the Government seems not to want to!
You'd think there were much more important priorities for the Government to spend money on. They refuse to put the basics right but like to concentrate on the (vote winning) ridiculous. Encouraging a child to save is a lesson the parents should teach and should not be down to the state. It's a lesson that can be taught with a small amount of money and if someone is so poor that they can't give their child 50p a week for a savings account, maybe they should have thought twice about bringing children into a such deprivation.
Hang on! Gordon Brown assures us that living standards in this country are improving all the time. So I am being asked to contribute from my taxes now to a trust fund for a hypothetical eighteen year old who by Gordon's prophetic reasoning is likely to be a lot better off by the time he collects.
And another thing. Why more cash for babies from less well off families. How can the Government make such assumptions about the future affluence levels of different families. Today's high earners through reasons of disease, economic factors or lifestyle changes could quite easily be a lot less well off by the time their offspring reach the age at which they can collect.
As a mother of three I can see why saving for the future is important - but in 18 years time, when the first of these bonds is being paid out - who will be in power? Almost certainly NOT Labour! This is a vote-grabbing scheme that they won't even have to worry about paying out on in the end! A complete gimmick!
As someone who has never had children, this angers me. Yet again families are to be rewarded with money in a cynical vote-buying exercise. I just hope that when I retire, the Government will refund to me all the money that I haven't claimed in Child Benefit, Family Credit, Baby Bonds and Income Support!
Come come M J Hudson and the rest; surely you remember cheap coucil house sales, straightforward bare faced tax cuts and - worst of all -selling off taxpayers property cheaply so that SOME of those same taxpayers could make a killing on the shares? What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander methinks. Of course it's OUR money, it's always been OUR money that governments bribe the electorate with, but at least it's not being poured down the drain like the Tories did!
I am disgusted at the shallowness of this policy. Those people who are sensible enough to realise that this money is only good for a few parties and a new wardrobe are probably sensible enough not to have their minds changed about entering into family life. It is the people who do not have the financial stability to raise children who are going to be swayed by this policy - and we will be able to watch and see what a huge mistake this is.
I don't think rewarding people for having babies is really appropriate in this day and age. How could any government control what this money is spent on?
Why not keep it in a fund until they are 60 then at least they might get some sort of pension, as there certainly won't be any state pension by then.
One question: how will £800 that can be accessed from adulthood help reduce child poverty?
James Bruce Reid, Scotland
The extra money from the bonds should be given to the parents. Poverty is a house with no heating, no food in the fridge, no nappies, no clothes for baby and parents being taken to court for non payment of bill's council tax for one. I don't see it being of any help the the really poor people they need help now just to survive and do their best for their children.
A good idea? Of course not - just another cynical electioneering ploy by an arrogant and over-taxing government that still - despite all evidence to the contrary - believes that it knows best how to spend our money.
Far better to let us keep more of what we earn, and encourage savings (especially for children) by tax breaks. And just how many millions per year is it going to cost to administer this?
What a cynical attempt to buy votes.
Most of the people they would like to encourage to save, can't afford to save, no matter what the incentive. You can't save what you haven't got.
If you rather want to help improve the lot of people growing up in impoverished circumstances, then opportunities are worth more than cash.
Reinstatement of non-repayable grants to fund our young people whilst they get the education to enable them to compete in the job market on an equal footing with the better off would be a much more sensible way to spend OUR money.
Gordon B wants to wake up and smell the roses. So just because he's a guy and will not have kids he thinks its a bad idea. Well these kids will pay for his pension, if everyone was like him there would be no future. It could be a good idea though, lets give all babies £5000 to invest in order to provide their own pension in 60 years time.
Tom from the USA: it's just as well that some of us forego the privilege (not the right) of passing on our genes (not always by choice) otherwise the world would be unbearably overcrowded (some would say it already is) and its already scarce natural resources would be even scarcer. We all make our contribution whether we have children or not.
It's just another admin nightmare in the making- invest the money in schools etc and save everyone a fortune. This Government is no different from old Labour - red tape, institutionalised inefficiency and jobs for the boys.
I am appalled that people here are suggesting that the money should be used for free tuition fees instead. The trouble with that is that it only benefits teenagers who go to university, who, despite the Government's best intentions tend to be better off. The money can benefit all, no matter whether they are academically gifted or not.
Outrageous! I cannot recall a more shameful example of vote buying. And with whose money is Mr Blair being so generous - yours and mine of course! How dare he so cynically use public money to fund his campaign to be re-elected? Coming from the man who supported the introduction of the National Lottery (what better way to take money from the many poor to make a very few very rich?)the claim to be using this policy to distribute wealth more evenly is a sick joke. I cannot remember being so angry about a political issue before.
Just another absurd idea from this insecure government.
Nice idea, but £500 at 18 is too late if the person cannot read due to the under-funding of our schools. What about ensuring children get priorities on NHS waiting lists so they don't spend most of their education suffering? Anyway, this money can be spent elsewhere to REALLY fight poverty.
Why doesn't Blair just get on with the job in hand? Education, NHS, Crime, Drugs, Transport - that's what money should be spent on. If people want to have children, they should fund them - not the taxpayer.
This sounds very much like an excuse for any future Labour or Conservative government to increase tuition fees. If Labour really wants to reduce the social divide it will have to be a lot more radical than this modernistic vote-winner.
Which planet did the politician who thought this election con-trick come from? He or she is obviously totally out of touch with reality!
Isn't this just a variant of the idea that a 10-year-old boy offered to Tony Blair a while ago as a possible solution to juvenile crime? I seem to remember he said that you should give each baby £1000, then remove bits of it to pay for any misdemeanours the child may commit, with the remainder (if any) being claimed when the child gets to 18. Trust it to a small boy to come up with a better idea than this government. And trust it to this government to tweak his idea around so it's now an ineffectual, non-targeted, pointless waste of taxpayers' money.
Providing unit trusts for children implies that the government doesn't think the majority of people will be able to afford to look after their children. Perhaps the government should look at this very fundamental flaw in our society first.
Give 18-year-olds any money and the majority will squander it. If you want proof, ask the average student what they spent their first loan on: hi-fi, beer, clothes, yes. Books, rent? - probably not! I think investing in the future is a fantastic idea, but how about making sure that there are enough desks and teachers in the classrooms of our schools first before handing cash to children!
An excellent idea! At last someone is investing our money for more than 4 years at a time. I don't care if it's an election gimmick or not, the next generation will thank us. This is a long-term growth plan, not a short-term fix like everything else in this country.
You would be better off spending the money on responsible parenting classes.
This government is at least trying to do something about the problem of poverty and plan for children's futures. As usual people whine about "my taxes being spent" and then in the same breath say that the money should be spent on schools and hospitals, when the Labour government has already committed itself to the biggest spending increases in these areas for a generation. The suggestion that 18 year olds will spend the money on drugs and partying is insulting in the extreme and shows a complete lack of understanding of people of my generation. Young people are not work-shy drug addicts - they are the future of this country.
Any money that was spent on these ridiculous trust funds would be much better spent on childcare facilities in hospitals, better facilities at school and subsidised university tuition. This 'stunt' is yet another foolish move by the government to win over a few dumb voters with money that could be used far more wisely. Labour have just lost another vote.
Far better to encourage parents to securely invest for their own children and give some good tax benefit for doing so. A sliding scale so small investments get higher incentives than large investments should encourage the less wealthy to use the scheme.
Yet another Labour 'spin'. I don't believe that this will eradicate child poverty nor encourage savings. Most parents who want to save for their children will do so. As a parent of two young children myself, I feel I have 'sold down the river' by Labour. I would like my tax contributions put to more useful purposes like free university education, better pensions, better policing - all the things Labour promised but haven't delivered.
Will the bonds be used to pay back the large student loans that kids will inevitably have to incur to fund their further education?
Why is Blair so completely obsessed with families yet ignores everybody else? Money seems to be pouring to families yet everybody else has to foot the bill whilst at the same time we are told we have to provide for ourselves in the future and retirement since the state will no longer be able to afford to do so.
These baby bonds might be a good idea but the priorities for my tax pounds are my future, helping real poverty (i.e. lack of the basics to live) and these pie-in-the-sky schemes are well down the priority list.
I would have loved a sum of money such as that suggested to start off my children's nest egg. With 5 children it is virtually impossible to squirrel away a meaningful sum of money however great the intent. Providing for the immediate needs of a growing family inevitably gets in the way.
An utterly silly idea. If the Government wants to help young people it ought to target them directly. Abolish tuition fees and restore student grants to encourage them into higher education, mortgage tax relief to help them buy a flat, and especially do more to help those who leave so-called "care" with no family to support them at 18 (and financial support is not what I'm thinking of).
Good idea - but why only 'poor' parents? Why create the social divide?
All political parties engage in electioneering so that aspects of this news is not new. I do not have children but I do not resent money being spent in this way and I find it offensive that people are already assuming that young people would not be responsible enough to spend it wisely. How many adults spend their money on legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol?
Jean Ball, England
We have got a lot of "in the future"' pledges around election time but one that promises money when you reach 18 is stretching it a bit. A lot can happen in that time to halt this almighty handout - economic crash, change of government, war. It's an empty promise and those who believe that it is given to help them or their children, should wake up. A government promises you money now that you can't have until you are 18 - that's the monetary equivalent of the "later" phrase used by parents. Both just want you to shut up and be quiet.
Will the parents have any control over whether their child can access this money at 18? I know if I had a child who, for example, had a drug habit, I would want to be able to stop them getting hold of this sort of cash.
I'm sure for the people who plan to have babies in the next five years that baby bonds are just a fine idea. For those of us who are stuck with debts from our student days, who have to wait ten years or so to be financially stable, it's just another fad - it will have been abolished by the time I get there. How about abolishing tuition fees at university? Give everyone, no matter what their background is, an opportunity to be educated, and stop spending our tax money on gimmicks.
Matthew Treherne, UK
How on earth is this going to alleviate child poverty, when the 'child' will be an 'adult' by the time they actually get to see the money???
What a load of ill-conceived nonsense - why don't they just give every voter in the country a fifty pound note outside the election booths instead, and stop dressing this rubbish up as policy!
An excellent idea provided that the money is ring-fenced and invested in the market so that it can grow enormously over 18 years, and not left in HMG treasury coffers while the child grows up.
I think this has the potential to be a good scheme, but the Government needs to look at what happens before the child hits 18. If the current levels of teachers in schools, truancy, etc. continue, when children from poorer backgrounds turn 18 they are not going to have the educational background to go into university, even if they do have the funds to pay for it.
What's all this talk of 'free' money? It's all ours to start with!
At 19 I object to suggestions I've seen that money given to me would be spent on drugs. I would find it very useful for such things as paying my rent and bills, as would the majority of people my age, who do not choose to break the law. I do feel that this money could be used better though, in improving people's situations in the here-and-now, not 18 years' time. What about people my age who choose to go into further education and are too young to receive grants but too old for bonds? I'd be much happier with some kind of investment that would help eradicate the debt of over £1200 I'll have when I leave university.
Does the government really think the British public won't see through this obvious election bribe? Trouble is, they're probably right.........
Paul Toner, UK
What a dreadful idea! Once again those who choose not to have children are being penalised.
It's a good idea - very good electioneering
as well as a useful practical
idea. It will introduce young
people to the idea of saving
money and investment.
I read a lot of negative comments -
people seem more positive in
Sweden, that's why I like
Mike Pearson, UK
I think that if the Government wants to help people with higher education, they should give them help based on their situation at the time. There will be some people whose families were very poor when they were born, but very well off by the time they are 18. They will have a full bond, whereas someone whose parents were wealthy when they were born, but can't work due to ill health would get none.
Why all the negativity? Being pregnant myself and worrying about my baby's future, this baby bond is a great way of tax payers' money being used to better our children's future. What's wrong with that?
So babies born to "poor" families are of greater value to the Government than babies born to "rich" families. Wonder what happens next?
Pat Spence, Scotland
Give 18 year olds £2000 each?
I don't mean to demean our young people,
but I think it is fair to say that in more than a few cases
at least some of the money may be spent on
currently illegal drugs. So well done,
the Government - you are about to give
a financial boost to drug traffickers and organised crime.
Can I backdate mine by thirty years?
Just a thought. This Government is very keen on supporting parents but perhaps now is the time society as a whole gets something in return. How about promising the money if and only if that child attends school and is law abiding - otherwise they get nothing? Bribe the parents and the kids into good behaviour so reducing the cost of child truancy and crime. Might even save money (as well as heartache) in the long run.
The winner in all this will be the Labour cronie investment firm appointed by the Blair Government to manage the trust fund. Can't wait to see the bill for its annual charges.
If this offer is to reduce child poverty surely rich babies won't need the money.
This should result in some excellent 18th birthday party blowouts.
Well done! Yet another way of creating another social divide between the classes, and I thought we were all born equal, not rich or poor. How are the babies going to be means tested?
Oh stop your whinging. Mmmm - free money.
Isn't this just another example of this Government's belief that they know how to spend our money better than we do? As for it being a measure to promote a culture of saving - I'd love to able to save more but their policies, primarily on tuition fees and IR35, have greatly curtailed my ability to do so. Never mind, at least when my daughter reaches 18 she'll be able to use her trust fund to pay her tuition fees.
I think this is one of the most horrendous schemes I have ever heard. I have no children, nor do intend to have any. Why should my tax money go to subsidise somebody else's child? Or those who have children and are now too old or don't want to have more, why should they subsidise others? If you make the decision to have children, you take on the responsibility of funding them; the Government should not fund a baby-boom with public money.
More and more blatant electioneering from Tony and his cronies.
Stephen Hopwood, UK
OK- so where will the Government be getting all this extra cash from for these 'baby bonds'?
The whole nation at this present time would benefit more to see money invested in the NHS, education etc, which in turn would make this country a better place for babies to be born into anyway - and for people like myself who never want children but pay a lot of tax!
This is just a cheap ploy by the Government to win more Labour votes from the nation! Or is it a sort of 'bribe' so women think about having more children, thus pushing up the numbers of this declining population?
This is, by far, one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. To any responsible couple embarking upon parenthood with a stable financial situation 500 GBP is a laughably small "bribe" for something they have already decided upon and planned for. I fear that the net effect of this move will be to encourage those who do not have the financial stability for a child to have it anyway.
Yvonne Kirchgaesser, Germany
Do we want another baby boom?
This is the most appalling and cynical piece of electioneering I have ever seen. Since the children wouldn't get the money till they are 18, it won't give any improvement in the lifestyle they have until then, and at 18, what happens? Will they spend it on education or on more tempting things, like a car or a DVD? It scares me that the Labour Party has such a low opinion of the intellect of the British people that they actually think we would fall for this nonsense.
Linda Adams, Hong Kong
Yet more governmental bias against those of us who cannot or choose not to have children. Will they give me some money to invest in stocks and shares for not burdening our already over-stretched infrastructure? This Government thinks it can stay in power by buying votes.
How about starting them a pension instead? Much more useful than a bank account where the money can be spent at 18.
I think this is the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard of. As a gay male who will never have kids I find it incredible the Government is wasting my tax money when it could be used for more worthwhile causes. How about some extra cash for the pensioners?
Baby bonds are simply a pre-election gimmick designed to buy votes. The practical difficulties in setting up and running them have been overlooked. Also, the initial sum, £500, is quite inadequate to provide money for say, university unless topped up by someone. I thought the whole idea was to give this to people who couldn't afford to save. How then, do they top it up?
Good in that they could encourage saving in children who would not otherwise save. They will be of no significant value to middle classes who would usually set up savings for their kids anyway. Therefore targeting to maximise the effect would make sense. They will however make no difference to child poverty, as the money is not available till the child is 18 - they will still grow up in poverty if the parents have a low income.
The idea is basically a good one but let's face it, announcing it at this time is plain electioneering - pure and simple! Such a shame though that we have to wait for election time for new ideas to be put forward.
26 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Labour pledges bonds for babies
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