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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 10:03 GMT
Blunkett's child benefit tax call
David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett's pamphlet is published by New Labour think-tank Progress
The child benefit of top rate taxpayers should be taxed to give extra support to children from deprived backgrounds, ex-minister David Blunkett has said.

Mr Blunkett believes the 80m to 100m move would help prevent a growing gap between rich and poor and increase social mobility in the UK.

He also calls for coming of age ceremonies to encourage 16 or 18 year olds to take their future seriously.

The charity, Save the Children, has given the measures a cautious welcome.

Under Mr Blunkett's plans, a "personalised supplementary educational allowance" would see schools receive extra money to provide mentoring and support for the poorest children.

Asset-building

The cash would be focused on individual children and move with them if they changed schools, but would be available to the school, not the parents.

It could come from taxing the child benefit paid to top-rate taxpayers for youngsters aged over 16.

The plans are contained in a pamphlet, "The Inclusive Society? Social Mobility in 21st Century Britain", published by New Labour think-tank Progress.

They include:

  • A secondary school graduation ceremony to mark the "transition to adulthood" at 16 or 18
  • A "dramatic" expansion of the Child Trust Fund to boost asset-building among the disadvantaged
  • Allowing people in rented properties to use housing benefit payments to purchase shared ownership of their homes, in return for signing up to a contract to be good tenants and support their children at school
  • Access to micro-credit at affordable interest rates for the less well off
  • A yearly five-day national entitlement to education or training for those in permanent work

Mr Blunkett said: "It is clear that the decline in social mobility that took place during the 1980s and 90s has been halted, yet a further step change is required to ensure that mobility begins to increase to create equality and overcome poverty of aspiration.

"Six months into Gordon Brown's government, this pamphlet contains ideas that have come from conversations I've had across the country.

"It builds on major policy publications over recent months and years and is a continuation of radical and progressive proposals in support of the future success of the Brown premiership."

Child poverty

Claire Walker, Save the Children's UK spokeswoman, said Mr Blunkett's pamphlet was "extremely timely" as social mobility "has stalled under this government".

"We support many of his proposals, including narrowing the gap of educational achievement and reform of the social fund," she said.

"But a person's chances in life are defined during childhood. Without tackling underlying child poverty, social mobility will not improve and we are well behind schedule.

"The government needs to invest 4bn now in order to meet its target of halving child poverty by 2010."

Save the Children is also campaigning for "seasonal grants" for the poorest people in summer and at Christmas to ease financial strains on vulnerable families.

SEE ALSO
School leaving age plans unveiled
06 Nov 07 |  Education
Parents have duty on leaving age
06 Nov 07 |  Education

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