Worst ministerial performance since the glory days of Gummer and Howe

Caroline Flint, minister for Employment and Welfare Reform has been answering questions about taking income support away from single parents, to put them on jobseekers allowance, which will then get taken away if they’re not looking for work.

As you can probably guess, single HE parents are somewhat worried about this; unless they are, ahem, “independently wealthy”, they’ll be forced into work, the kids into school.

I’ve just been looking at a transcript of the chat (which, incidentally, took place at least two hours before it was scheduled), sadly not yet available. However, my reaction and translation is below.

Dear gods. Now you know why they try not to let cabinet members out without a responsible adult. Not since the halcyon days of John Selwyn Gummer have I seen such a  public display of ministerial incompetence.

And I’m trying to see where she’s actually answered ANY of the questions, rather than (failing to) handwave them away.

Nope. Still looking.

“What if you’ve been left?”
“Well, you’re obviously both working, so we’ve got to keep things that way…”

(BTW, my children were, and are, improvised. Every time I try to keep them on script, they go off…)

“What about rural unemployment?”
“Well, the Highlands are pretty rural, and both the people who live there have jobs! Even though that’s outside my remit, due to devolution!”

“What about single home educators?”
“They don’t matter and they’re very selfish.”

“But I can’t do skilled jobs part time!”
“Oh, but you can become a classroom assistant!”

“Why is it better to pay someone else to look after my kids?” (bless you Sheena!)
“Look, being on benefits is VERY BAD, m’kay? Studies, which don’t include the ones that say that kids in daycare are very badly socialised, support it.”

Anyway, the HE answer in brief, with commentary…

;Georgina Strumblehead
My home: Will you confirm that the govt will continue to uphold the
right of every parent, including single parents to educate their
children at home?

Caroline Flint: Georgina, people do have the right to decide if they
want to home educate their children as long as it complies with the
needs of the national curriculum I understand


Strike one. EHE’s do NOT have to follow the NC, they have to provide a suitable education for the child’s needs, abilities and aptitudes. Exactly contrary to the plan of a national curriculum.

As far as I know there
are very few lone parents in receipt of income support who are home
educating their children and would be affected by these proposals.

Strike two: What information do you have? Have you looked? Are you relying on your prejudices to form government policy?

The Government has to address in what ways can we justify tax payers’
money for the benefits system and individuals’ obligations to support
their own families and the family choices they make.

Strike three: Home educators SAVE the taxpayer vast amounts of money every year. Far in excess of their benefits claims. When the school system as a whole can justify the taxpayer’s money, come and see us, until then…



3 thoughts on “Worst ministerial performance since the glory days of Gummer and Howe

  1. Oh FFS! She’s my local MP and for the record I attended her surgery on Friday. Funnily enough she had a lot to say about classroom assistants then too. *sigh* I still have to write it up to post on the list I’ve been involved in a discussion about this on, however, I will be following it up with some information and will include info. re. HE and part of that will be that we do not have to ‘comply’ with the NC. hmph!

    1. Since the govt calculates spend per upil as about £5,500 (http://www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/TIM/m002012/index.shtml), and income support for a single parent tuns at £59.15 per week, or £3101 pa (http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/fs_isr.pdf), I make that a net saving of £2000+ for a single parent with one child staying at home to educate their child rather than go to work and send the child to school, that would have to be made up from tax receipts. Further place into that equation the incentive payments and costs of subsidised childcare, and the long term social benefits of home education and increased parental contact, and the government gets an absolute bargain from single home educating parents.

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