Did you know that
• a shocking 50,000 women are estimated to be losing their jobs while on maternity leave each year
• new mothers are more likely to face a drop in income due to taking maternity leave, working part time, or miss out on pay rises due to discrimination
• while the cost of living for new families is getting worse and worse each month.
The Child Poverty Action Group estimates that, in the last year alone, the cost of looking after a new baby has been rising by 4.5 per cent. Yet average earnings are only going up by 1.5 per cent;
Much of this is just part of what we are all suffering as a result of the Tory/LibDem Coalition’s austerity policies, which are holding down wages, pushing up the cost of living and hitting living standards.
But some of it is specific to new parents, and especially to mothers.
Instead of trying to protect young families, the Coalition has targeted cuts directly at them.
New House of Commons library figures show an average family with a new born baby is losing £2,000 as a result of the Coalition’s cuts to tax credits, the Health in Pregnancy Grant, the Sure Start Maternity Grant, maternity pay and support for new families.
A baby conceived this year will lose £688 before it’s even born! And in its first year, from April 2014, another £1,258 will be taken from the pocket of its babygro.
To add insult to injury, the Coalition is making it easier for employers to discriminate against women during maternity leave by charging £1,200 to take a maternity discrimination case to employment tribunal.
“New mums are being betrayed by this Government. They face a triple whammy from maternity discrimination made easier by Ministers, big cuts to family support by George Osborne, and the cost of living with a new baby is far outstripping wages.
“Discrimination against women who take maternity leave is a hidden outrage, and a complete waste for the economy. The revelation that up to 50,000 women a year could be losing their jobs on maternity leave is a shocking one. Yet far from doing anything about it, Ministers are making it worse by charging women who challenge discrimination at an employment tribunal.
“And new parents are being particularly hard hit by George Osborne’s tax and benefit changes – losing maternity pay, child benefit, tax credit, pregnancy grants and Sure Start. The cost of living for new parents is rising far faster than wages. Yet at the same time, millionaires are getting tax cuts.
“The first few months of a new baby’s life are extremely important for the whole family and should be a special time. They shouldn’t be clouded by fear of not having a job to go back to, or worry about how to manage financially.
“We know David Cameron has a problem with women. This is now resulting in him failing new families. We need a new deal for new mums that shows motherhood is valued, and that recognises the vital role parents play in the economy as well as in the home.”
Labour will shortly be launching a survey of mothers and new parents.
We want to hear first-hand their experiences of pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life.
We want to know
– exactly what impact Coalition cuts are having on maternity pay and support for families, as well as on the living standards of young families
– how the Coalition’s cuts to Sure Start are affecting them
– the extent of maternity discrimination new parents face,
We want to hear
– about the availability of affordable childcare and flexible working for both women and men,
– and about how family support, like maternity services and Sure Start, are working.
Labour is preparing its policies on parenting and childcare.
It will build them, as it will build other policies – from the bottom up
– from the experiences of new parents and mums.
Alex Sobel comments ‘As the parent of two young children who saw us lose all our child tax credits in the first two years of this Government whilst our wages fell, I know exactly how disastrous this Government is for all parents of young children. We made so many gains under Labour and I hope the next Labour Government can support families especially around childcare where I would like to see a quality universal offer.’
Parents and children are our future.
No responsible government can afford to treat them like this.