Who cares about the family

who cares

About Mothers at Home Matter

MAHM exists to represent families where the children are cared for at home by a parent, as well as families who would
like to choose to care for their children themselves, but find the barriers are too great.
The organisation has three core aims:-
a) To promote understanding of children’s developmental needs, focusing on maternal care, the importance of family time and a loving home environment

b) To campaign for changes in the tax and benefits system to allow mothers and fathers to allocate more time to family-based care at key stages of the family life cycle. We are particularly concerned about penalties faced by families
who dedicate time to caring.

c) To enhance the status and self-esteem of mothers at home by encouraging and celebrating motherhood

Family Life Cycle Approach

When it comes to meeting family responsibilities a ‘family life cycle approach’ is essential and a sequential pattern of care and work is as acceptable as any other choice. Mothers and fathers need time to care and time to work, but not necessarily both at the same time when raising a family.
Children’s developmental needs must be prioritised and this takes doses of time and love. If we truly believe that parenting is a shared project, then parents need at least the option to be assessed jointly and treated as a household when they have care responsibilities for children – and also for other family members. It makes little sense to treat people as separate individuals when they’ve embarked on the journey of family life. Mutual support and partnership working is key with parents making the choices that work best for them in their unique circumstances, which change over time. Policymakers must provide a level playing field so that choices are supported equally in taxation, allowances, and child benefit, recognising that a productive economy relies on an army of invisible carers.

MAHM believes that mothers and fathers are equal in all respects, whether or not in employment and that equality is about more than lifetime earnings or professional status. In a modern society it’s surely time to end the discrimination against caring and unpaid work, for the sake of caregivers as well as the dependants they support. The role of care needs to be urgently re-assessed and elevated to the status it deserves.

Marie Peacock
Chair Mothers at Home Matter

Some Definitions

Single Income Family (SIF) or Single earner household
The family model where one parent is the sole income provider (usually the father). The other parent has the primary caring role (usually the mother).
Double Income Family (DIF)
The family model where both parents bring home incomes. They may go out to work full or part time.
Lone Parent
The family model where there is only one parent in the family raising the children, (usually a single mother).
Average income
Average income or average wage as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD 2011-12 Taxing Wages). The UK average wage is £33k. Averages can be
misleading. For example where there a few very high incomes and many low the average will be higher than what most people earn.
Median Income
The middle income is a better measure of what we usually mean by ‘average’. Calculated by dividing the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and
half below. Median income varies widely according to area. In London median income is about £34k while in Dorset it is £22k. In the SE it is £28k. The UK median income is £26k. (ONS Annual Survey Hours & Earnings 2014)
dadPrimary Carer: fathers at home
MAHM also recognise the work of fathers at home undertaking the day to day caring role. Many of our campaign aims, such as fiscal fairness for single-earner families and the importance of valuing ‘time spent caring’ apply to fathers just as much as mothers. Everything we say in this booklet should be translatable from mother to ‘primary carer’ and father or husband to ‘primary earner’ with no loss of principle.
Families or Households
Household is easier to identify and is a reasonably good proxy for the family. Wherever people live together and share incomes they act as a family and prosper or suffer poverty together.

“There is a need to move towards the kind of economic thinking that promotes quality of life.”

(Robert Kenedy)

 

Executive Summary

This booklet explains why most families can no longer afford for the mother to be home. We show how: • The tax system in UK takes more money off families if a parent stays home to care for their children than if both parents are in paid employment.

  • Tax credits and welfare payments help lower paid parents, but also stop them being able to improve the family’s situation
  • The system discourages aspiration, undermines fathers and drives mothers out to work to fill the family’s income gap
  • The system undermines family unity in that it may be financially better to be separated
  • This is not a left wing or right wing issue; governments over 30 years have created the problem and made it worse
  • Current coalition policies on tax, benefits and childcare further discriminate against mothers at home
  • ‘Affordable childcare’ aims to ease the symptoms but not the cause of poverty and ignores the desire of parents to care for their own children
  • The needs of babies and children are either absent from debate or treated as secondary

arms wideNo other large European or Commonwealth country discriminates against the family in this way. Many actively support mothers to be at home. One freedom the average mother no longer has is to stay home and care for her children if she would like to. But in the face of government and media hostility it is a choice mothers are saying they want back and we hope the information and ideas here will help them to understand the causes and where to direct their political efforts.

“Mothers believe choice
has been eradicated”

(Netmums: Great Work Debate)

 

To read the rest of our booklet download now: Who Cares about the Family Jun 2015

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