Tax officials have been accused of trying to turn children into ‘state spies’ after it emerged school pupils are being urged to tell their teachers if they know of anyone who isn’t paying their fair share.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has set up teaching modules designed to guide children through the confusing world of Pay as You Earn and National Insurance contributions.
Some of the modules, which can be found on the HMRC website, teach pupils as young as 11 about the importance of paying the right amount of tax.
One lesson invites children to think of anyone ‘in their local area’ who may have been paying too little.
The move was criticised by think tank Civitas, whose director David Green said it sounded ‘a bit too "Big Brotherish"’.
He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘People "in their local area" are most likely to be parents or close relatives.
‘Turning children into state spies is un-British.’
One module encourages teenagers to ‘discuss what should happen’ to people who are not prepared to work’ under the ‘obligations of being a good citizen’.
Another lesson plan, tailored for pupils aged 14 to 16, asks: ‘What do students think of those who refuse to pay tax or try and defraud the benefits system?
‘Can they think of any example they may have heard of in their local area?’