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Field blames yob culture on Labour for making mothers go back to work
By George Jones 9th December 2004
The Government's policy of driving mothers with young children out to work is one reason for the rise of yobbish behaviour, says Frank Field, the former Labour minister for welfare reform.
In a speech today Mr Field will call for mothers to be given a real financial incentive to stay at home during their children's early years.
His call for more stay-at-home mothers puts him at odds with the Government, particularly Gordon Brown who last week used his pre-Budget statement to unveil proposals for a "10-year framework for child care".
Although the Chancellor said the Government wants parents to stay at home for longer after a birth - extending maternity leave from six to nine and then 12 months - he made clear that ministers believed most mothers would go out to work.
He said parents should be guaranteed access to affordable and safe child care when they were at work, and the Government's aim was 20 hours of free nursery care for 38 weeks a year for all three- to four-year-olds.
Mr Field, delivering the Eleanor Rathbone memorial lecture, will argue that the low value society puts on motherhood, and the pressure of Government policy and a consumer society to get mothers with young children out to work, is a major cause of anti-social behaviour.
He believes that nurturing children during their first two years is crucial to the kind of citizens they become.
"The root cause of anti-social behaviour is the rise of dysfunctional families who fail to teach their members the skills necessary for an effective family life, let alone how to negotiate successfully the wider world."
Mr Field will outline his plan for "endowing motherhood", to make the choice of caring for very young children full-time a real one by paying an endowment of £24,000 over the first two years. The cost would be met by paying a quarter of the value of help taxpayers already give to families in the form of child benefit and tax allowance over a child's first 16 years.
Alan Milburn, in overall command of Labour's general election campaign, said last night that his party must make delivering "power to the people" a mission for a third successive term in office.
He told the Social Market Foundation that having established a reputation for economic competence, Labour must tackle the fundamental issue of how to give citizens a greater say in how their communities are governed.
"This is the time to keep our foot on the accelerator of reform, not the brake. We have to win the battle not just of votes - but of ideas."
Just as New Labour had reclaimed the mantle of economic competence from the Conservatives, it must now stake a claim "to the new territory of consumer choice and community empowerment"
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