It came as something of a shock to me to find that such a small proportion of children were actually being looked after. Even given the constant complaints from Government about the lack of ‘parenting skills’ in the population, I would have assumed that most children were at least being clothed and fed. You don’t see that many ragged children anymore. I thought I saw some the other day but it turned out Primark had got in a new stock of its popular Vivienne Westwood range. Even more baffling to me is why the government is proposing to concentrate on these rather than the children who aren’t being looked after. I suppose it’s much easier.
The Prime Minister who so helpfully launched the consultation exercise this afternoon (and reportedly monopolised the coronation chicken vol-au-vents), intoned, ‘What always strikes me is when I meet them [looked-after children], they are so much more talented and able than you anticipate. They have a tremendous ability and potential that is undeveloped.’ This is puzzling me. Children in care get through an entire lifetime without anyone once hearing them or noticing what they can do, yet the Prime Minister seems to have instantaneous insight. Surely this could be used somehow. Maybe Derren Brown could be drafted in to channel the Prime Minister’s extrasensory perceptions. Derren could also give dietary advice to Government ministers who have trouble controlling themselves at the executive finger buffet.
The Kid eventually announced that the Government intends to commit to being a better ‘corporate parent’ to the 60,000 children in care. Just prior to devouring an entire tray of brie and cranberry blinis, he pledged an extra £100 annually for each child and a £2,000 bursary to help them go through university. It’s occurred to no one that the one thing that keeps children from becoming destitute at any age between birth and middle age, is that parents are a constant source of funds. The hundred quid offered will go in ring tones on day one. Is this ‘corporate parent’ going to stump up when the credit cards max out or help out with the deposit on a flat? Is Mummy state going to do junior’s washing, drop around with groceries, keep a ready supply of Pop-Tarts or provide a Sunday lunch that will stave off the hunger pangs until Wednesday?