Why is our family unit penalised for the time spent caring for our daughter?

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charlotte-hughes2I have a confession to make; I’m a SAHM by choice! Not due to childcare costs or because I’m not ambitious, which political parties seem to think are the only possible reasons. It’s for the simple reason that I want to be the one who looks after my child on a daily basis. To be able to take her and pick her up from school nursery and be able to go to the library or park or farm afterwards so she can enjoy her childhood and we can spend time together.

I’m an older mum, I was 35 when my daughter was born and before that I had worked as a criminal defence solicitor for 10 years. That involved long hours and evening and weekend work so I knew that if I became a mother I wouldn’t be able to continue working. My husband supported my decision. He was working for himself but during my pregnancy became an employee so his employment was more secure and we moved to be near family and for more affordable housing. We also made lots of cutbacks regarding holidays and social events. These were decisions that we made for our family and I appreciate that they wouldn’t work for all families, however I didn’t think we would be penalised for them.

Despite paying a substantial amount of tax all my working life I’m seen as a burden on the working population, although I currently volunteer at my daughter’s nursery one morning a week and previously ran a toddler group. My husband works hard and has been promoted and the government rewards this by removing our child benefit, which I had used solely for our daughter. Also since my husband is a higher rate tax payer I can’t transfer my unused tax allowance to him.chriskatie-hayden-hoskins

My husband pays more tax than a couple would on the same joint wage. Whichever way you look at it we are being penalised as a family for making the decision for me to stay at home and look after our daughter instead of paying for someone else to do it. She has benefitted from this, with continuity of care and she is thriving at nursery as I am able to sit with her and help her with her numeracy and literacy. We’ve been told that she is doing more than is expected for her age and I put this down to the time I am able to spend with her playing, listening to her and taking her to places after nursery where she can run around see friends and be a child!

Why can’t the government accept that all families are different and that caring is beneficial to society as a whole? I’m not asking to be rewarded or given anything extra, just to be acknowledged and treated the same as families who have two working parents who can claim child benefit even if their joint income is up to £99,000. No wonder these families are going on holidays abroad!

Clare Kenney

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