21 November 2007

Child Benefit 1946 - 2007

Child Benefit has been found dead after HM Customs and Revenue lost the personal information of nearly 25 million UK citizens in the post - fatally compromising the integrity of both the government and the Child Benefit system and leading to the impending bankruptcy of the nation's children in a financial disaster even more embarrassing than the Northern Rock cock-up.

Child Benefit was the proud baby boomer offspring of the Family Allowances Act, as Britain struggled to raise itself from the rubble of World War Two, determined that every child in Britain should escape the crushing poverty of pre-war generations (who can forget the financial ruin caused by the collapse of Lord Snooty plc or the day Billy Bunter's tuckshop franchise business was passed into the hands of the receivers?). Now parents could have five shillings a week extra for every child to spend on powdered milk, powdered egg, 10 powdered Capstan Full Strength and a bottle of black market rum (powdered).

But ten years later Britain's children had never had it so good as they wised up to the fiscal opportunities presented by Child Benefit and set about boosting the economy as they invested heavily in The Eagle, Meccano and gobstopper industries.

As the government doled out the pounds, shillings and pence throughout the Sixties every child was able to experience the white heat of technology for themselves as they purchased Lego like there was no tomorrow, all the while listening to the latest The Pink Floyd album on their new stereo record players whilst dropping some of that really good acid they could now easily afford.

By the Seventies, child poverty was definitely a thing of the past only dimly remembered by one's parents, as kids cycled to school on brand new Chopper bikes (flashily buying a new Chopper every day) or bounced to their investors' meetings on Space Hoppers whilst high on speed.

During the Eighties, as pensioners grumbled about their meagre handouts, children across the country managed their portfolios on brick-sized mobile telephones - buying heavily into shoulder-pads and cocaine off their brick-sized mobile telephones - and, in the Nineties, chilled out on some really good E, moved into more ethical investmnents and emerging new dotcom and gaming businesses.

By the noughties, the nation's children were living the high life as The Benefit ensured that the nation's children did not go without the essentials of modern life - text bundles, knives and crack pipes. So when the National Audit Office asked HM Revenue and Customs for the Child Benefit database a junior official at their HQ in Tyne and Wear burnt it onto 2 CDs (filling up the extra space with the new Arctic Monkey's album) and popped it, unrecorded in the post, in a breach of government security guidelines not seen since John Prescott was told where and when Cabinet meetings were taking place.

Chancellor, Alistair Darling, led the frantic search for the disks but when they failed to turn up down the back of the sofa or being used as coasters on the coffee table he called in the Metropolitan Police. Fortunately, further embarrassment was spared as the Armed Response Team hurtling towards Tyne and Wear was recalled at the last moment before they could "stop and search the Brazilian bastard".

But the damage had been done and the security of Child Benefit had been fatally compromised - the system that had promised to care for Britons from the cradle to the grave had dropped the cradle in the grave and Child Benefit was no more.

Child Benefit will be buried in a pauper's grave at the St Charles of Dickens Church of the Means-Test. The service will be conducted by the Reverend Jack Douglas after the Reverend Darling lost his eulogy somewhere between the vicarage and the library, turned up for the funeral on the wrong day at the wrong church and his trousers fell down. The congregation will sing Hymn 312 You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two as the hat is passed around.

Child Benefit is pre-deceased by the nation's confidence in the government and is survived by the laughter of David Cameron, the laughter of Tony Blair and the scheme to introduce Identity Cards - but probably not for very much longer.