Researchers working at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the LSE have released a report suggesting that the government develops a ‘time poverty’ target for parents alongside the existing child poverty target.
Upon discovering that better educated single-mothers are in less ‘time poverty’ the work concludes:
Government support could take a number of forms: regulation, to ensure employers provide adequate time off for employees studying for work-related qualifications; extension of childcare tax credits to cover parents’ study hours as well as paid work; and taking a more long-term view of the value of studying for qualifications in ‘welfare to work’ rules: a qualification beyond basic literacy and numeracy will not necessarily have an immediate payback in terms of employment, but it is an investment for future that in the long run will produce better job opportunities.
The report also suggests that the government set a minimum of 'quality' time parents spend with their children in order to guide policy. More regulations for businesses are unarguably a bad idea. More benefits will lead to perverse incentives and in this financial climate would prove remarkably unpopular. There is even a suggestion to raise the minimum wage. I am not sure what planet this report was written on, but it is not of this world.
Like most of the very worst public policy, the impulse to interfere here is full of good intentions. However, the time that parents spend with their children is a matter that should not be the concern of the government. This is the sacred preserve of the family and any invitation for the state to enter is a most unwelcome one. Like salesmen, once you open the door to the state, there is no getting rid of them.