Tax credit cuts debate must place greater priority on family life and a good childhood

Posted in: MAHM Blog

The House of Lords last night forced a review of tax credit cuts and the way it was planned they’d be implemented.
Tax credit cuts planned by Govt would hit the lowest income families in poorly paid jobs the hardest, just when families need income support when bringing up children.

Family budgets are already squeezed by ridiculously high costs in family housing/rent in UK and cost of living and essentials that children need – food on the table, school shoes and so on.

But still MPs this morning are protesting and insisting that there were ‘counterbalances’ in place, for example more free childcare so that all mothers can return to work sooner presumably!

When will politicians understand that registered out-of-home nursery care should have little to do with this particular debate? The main issues are surely more about low pay, housing costs and failure to implement fairer family taxation that properly factor in care responsibilities (as happens in other countries).

If politicians want to prioritise childhood well-being – and we know that some genuinely do – then why is the Govt making families on lowest hourly rates of pay bear the brunt of cuts in the first place?

The House of Lords inquiry on childcare last year clearly revealed the confusion in Govt childcare policy (and the rationale behind it).   Is it about ‘education’ or is it about ‘getting more women back into work’ or is it about claiming to reduce ‘disadvantage’ (even when families on joint income of up to a whooping £299,999 will also be invited to claim tax allowances on their childcare costs – hardly the sort of measure we’d expect in a climate of austerity!).

Now, following on from the House of Lords vote last night, some politicians claim that ‘more childcare’ is a planned  ‘counterbalance’ to offset necessary cuts in welfare bill.

But there’s little mention  of the ‘costs’ of financing this ‘counterbalancing childcare’ which runs to at least £7 or £8 billion pounds and rising.  In fact if doubled to 30 hours per week then,  who knows,  perhaps more like £9 billion (and this is before staff pay goes up with a living wage).

And another thing..
The childcare sector has clearly explained that the proposed expansion of registered provision is unworkable, due to underfunding and other challenges faced. And there’s also the unresolved issue of how to afford higher staff costs, especially with a rise due in the living wage.

Early years practitioners need to be paid fairly for the responsibility they take on for our youngest children, but their managers can’t afford to pay them more and ironically many childcare workers will be in the front line of tax credit cuts!

Clearly these issues have not been thought through by Govt.
As ever, none of it quite adds up.

And women caring for children will be hit particularly hard.


Please write to your MP and ask for the tax credit cuts that are planned by Conservative Govt to be subjected to Mr Cameron’s ‘Family Test’,  which pledged last year to examine the impact of each and every policy on family lives and family relationships.


What happened to the Family Test? Was that particular idea quietly shelved?


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