Childcare vouchers

The proposal to scrap these has met with vehement opposition. Click here for more.

An FTM member writes the following: 

Mothers at home have childcare costs too, even though they may be invisible because there are no ‘childcare bills’

The government is bowing to pressure from the professional elite and is now willing to forego substantial income from taxes by making paid childcare for working women (or fathers) effectively tax deductible, while providing nothing for the parent at home – for example, my husband would not expect to be able to offset his childcare costs against the care I provide, despite the fact that the care I provide DOES have a real cost to us as a family – ie, the salary I’ve given up.

It should be an equal transparent system for all. Single-earner families currently subsidise the childcare of dual-income families who may be on a higher income: surely that can’t be right?   Plus those dual income couples are ALREADY able to claim to personal allowances so they are often already better off.

If ALL parents went back to work and started claiming childcare vouchers through our employers, the system would soon collapse – it RELIES on the fact that only a small proportion of people can do it!!!

People will argue that mothers at home do not pay childcare bills – and that they deserve reward for ‘contributing’ through paid work. But the costs to mothers at home are invisible, even though to the family who have given up one salary it is all too visible. It also suggests that only paid employment ‘contributes’ (to what, to society?). The family is significant generator of wealth through the interactions between its members for which no money changes hands – parental childcare being just one of many.

It hinges on the system of independent taxation – we should be looking at overall household income,  not individual income levels, once there are children involved in a couple’s affairs.     How can it make sense for couples on £100k a year to both be able to claim childcare vouchers plus two single person’s allowances,  when a couple struggling with a parent-carer at home and one at work earning, say 40,000, qualifies for no taxable allowance at all?

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6 Responses to “Childcare vouchers”

  1. Beverley Smith Says:

    We have the same issue here in Canada and there is an active lobby to equalize benefits between parents. New Zealand is trying to solve this through income splitting and where I am visiting in Australia this week there is a universal birth bonus of $5,000. I am trying to get my Canadian government to universalize all benefits for children so that there is no favoritism for those who use daycare. It is really the only democratic and practical way to address the many choices people want- care by dad, mom, sitter, nanny, grandma, 3rd party caregiver in small private dayhome, care by 3rd party large institional setting, work at home or tag-team parenting or home schooling even. To only fund one type of daycare clearly and unfairly disadvantages all others,

  2. Marie Says:

    Great to know of the work being done in Canada and further afield.

    Re childcare vouchers – it seems to me that working women in influential positions are very vocal on this topic and are bound to fight for a better deal for themselves – who can blame them as everyone is struggling? But at least women in top jobs can console themselves that they have a voice – whereas mums at home full time, or in part time jobs, struggle to even get their voices heard. There is no ‘system’ for making sure that mothers at home are equally represented in the debate. This lack of representation in public life really needs addressing. It can’t be right that women who devote years and years to caring for children are still so ‘invisible’ in the system – didn’t we fight for a better deal for ALL hard working women (paid and unpaid)?

    IN a sense we rather ironically rely on working women to promote and champion the value of at-home motherhood. Lots of female family policy commentators have come out in support of mothers, but still nothing gets done to improve the situation despite people talking endlessly about the need to improve childhood wellbeing. Aren’t they missing a trick?

    As far as I can tell many ordinary working women don’t/can’t claim childcare vouchers and are struggling in low-paid unsatisfying jobs when they’d rather be sorting the home out and helping with reading etc , especially in school holidays. And most women at home, contrary to the popular myth, are not at home because hubby/partner earns a really high salary or because ‘they can afford it’. Rather they are at home because they really want ‘to actively mother’ and because they value ‘hand-on caring’ ….especially mothers of older children who have accumulated a bit of mothering experience along the way….

    When, oh when will politicians and commentators grasp the importance of motherhood and ‘being there’ ? What is REALLY holding them back from supporting motherhood??

    Of course it’s ‘okay’ to be a full time dad ( there are some wonderful ones out there)…this is a ‘politically desirable and correct’ choice. It’s only demeaning and unfulfilling apparently when done by a woman, but if it’s a dad then he’s a hero, so talented, so patient, such a good cook, aren’t the kids lucky?!! I have to point out that I’ve known loads of really fantastic at-home dads but this doesn’t negate the need to value motherhood. MOtherhood is unique and special.

    We need to break down barriers and get different groups of people together on this for some grown-up debate.

  3. ftmuk Says:

    Great campaign, Beverley – all good wishes to you.

  4. Anna Lines Says:

    Just for the sake of argument, how about the following? Take a couple with 3 young children. Mum stays at home to look after them and loses her salary. Dad provides for them all and he can claim no subsidy of any sort in respect of the care of his children and the cost of providing for their mother. The unthinkable happens: she dies and he is left a widower. He needs to carry on working and finds a mother substitute for the children. And look at what happens now: he claims childcare vouchers and the help gets paid by him and can claim a personal tax allowance. Moreover, she is deemed to be “working” and is able to claim a personal tax allowance on her earnings. Something’s not right here, don’t you think? So, how about a father formally paying the mother of his children (or vice versa), claiming a childcare voucher in respect of this payment and the mother then being able to claim a personal allowance on her payment? It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
    So, how about simply allowing such a couple to divide their family income in half for tax purposes?

  5. antelope Says:

    unit 2…

    Childcare vouchers « Full Time Mothers…

  6. Coupons Says:

    Coupons…

    […]Childcare vouchers « Full Time Mothers[…]…

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