This week has seen significant announcements by both main parties relevant to childcare and families.
In advance of the Tory Party Conference, David Cameron has said he will bring in tax relief for families in 2015.
By this what he means is tax relief for a Tory version of a family – in work, with one wage-earner, a stay-at-home parent, earning enough to benefit from tax-threshold changes. The gender of the working parent is not specified – but in practice this looks too like a return to the old Married Man’s Tax Allowance for comfort. In practice, too, it will likely put money into the hands of men, rather than directly into the hands of women and children.
‘Love is love, commitment is commitment’ says David Cameron
– for married couples with one earner on £40K, but not for married couples with each on £10K;
– except for two thirds of married couples, widows, widowers, single parents,
– but certainly for those on their second or third wives, though not for the ex left behind holding the baby etc etc.
Angela Eagle points out that ‘Despite the broad promise to “recognise marriage” in the tax system, just a third of couples will benefit from the move. The policy will only apply to basic rate taxpayers not using all of their personal allowance (which currently stands at £9,440), allowing them to transfer up to £1,000 to their spouse or civil partner, reducing the latter’s tax bill by around £200. As a result, just four million out of the 12.3 million married couples will benefit (at a cost of £600m), including only 2.5 million of the 8.7 million married couples with someone in work. The remaining 1.5 million gainers are mostly married pensioners. As the IFS has noted, “The policy is not, therefore, a general recognition of marriage in the tax system, as it affects only 32% of married couples and 29% of non-pensioner married couples.”
We’re all in favour of helping pensioners, but didn’t realise they needed to be persuaded to marry.
With policies like this, it’s no wonder the Tories are not seen as the party of women.
Incidentally, not a single event in the 128-strong Tory Conference fringe has a woman slated to speak.
‘But calm down, dear, the men will see to it all for you. . . .’
Last week, by contrast, Labour announced some of its plans for children and families.
Wrap-around childcare – that means breakfast clubs and after school clubs, in ALL primary schools for ALL children.
Nursery provision for ALL 3 and 4 year olds of ALL working parents – where the parent is at work
– so for families of working single parents, as well as in families where both parents are at work.
Labour’s policies are designed to benefit ALL families and ALL children – and Labour’s help will go directly to children,
– in kind, not side-tracked through the [often male] pay-packet.
Children and families are at the heart of Labour’s vision – whether nationally, or locally.
Here in Leeds the Labour Council has made children and their future a priority – even in the face of the most swingeing Coalition cuts
– in general – with the plans to make Leeds a Child-Friendly City
– but in very specific ways, like the protection of SureStart
– – NO SURESTART CENTRE HAS HAD TO CLOSE IN LEEDS – thanks to the actions of the Labour Council.
Alex Sobel commented ‘When we say we are on the side of families we should think of all families with children. We’ve shown our commitment to that here in Leeds. And we’ve got the policies to do the same at Westminster. Government should be about improving the living standards and life chances of all children, not peddling a view of the family which has been disappearing since women started working en masse in the Second World War. Labour is for improving all households with children, whilst the Coalition have an illiberal and outdated view of family, and of which families they want to support.’
The Labour Party is committed to children and families – in ALL sizes, shapes and forms.
We see them as the future – and as Coalition policies squeeze living standards more and more, they are ALL in need of help through these difficult times.