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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

22 AUG 2006

Valuing Children - The Role of the State and the Family

Catherine Shelley, Young Street Chambers, Manchester. Is it more loving to care out of love and be motivated by bonds of familial loyalty without regard to the costs of doing so or is the more loving approach to fight for all the funding you can get, so that you can give the child the best materially as well as emotionally? The author says that the state's answer appears to be that fighting for all the funding you can get for foster parents, so that you give them the best materially and emotionally, is the correct approach, but for natural parents love alone is enough.

The author says that where natural parents are involved, the clear message is that state support should be the last resort and parents should provide for their children themselves. Child Benefit, currently set at £17.50 for the first child and £11.70 for subsequent children, is tokenistic. Working Families Tax Credits may go some way to helping low income families in work to care for children, but the bureaucratic difficulties involved in claiming and then dealing with alleged overpayments deter many. The most glaringly low payments are those made to Job Seeker's Allowance or Income Support recipients. Only £33.50 is paid for a dependent child, regardless of age. Given that one of the major reasons that children come into care is stress caused by poverty and poverty-related circumstances, questions must be raised about the discrepancy of who gets paid what to care for children.

See September [2006] Fam Law 792 for the full article.

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