Child benefit cut

Here are extracts from a letter an FTM member wrote to her MP.

Following our conversation last night I am enclosing the letter and petition from a group of local mothers. It was never originally meant as a petition but while talking about it in the playground other parents were interested and wanted to sign and so it evolved….

The objection I personally have to the cut is that it is sending out a ‘sound’ which apparently discriminates against mothers who have chosen to stay at home, sacrificing an income in response to a sense that it is more beneficial for the child, for the community and for the nation as a whole to take care of family life especially in the infant years. The proposal apparently rewards those who have dual incomes and have taken the decision (for whatever reason) to return to the work place.

When we got married [my husband] asked me to give up my work (this was pre-children) because when we looked around us we realised that there was not a visible sense of community. The streets were deserted, there was little communication with neighbours. We had no idea how to build up this sense of community but realised that if one of us did not have time on our hands or the ability to be physically in the community we would not find out! For me it was a very difficult decision and I felt vulnerable. Most people’s value of themselves comes from what they do and you are judged by what you do. I felt keenly aware in the early months that I could not say I had a job as such, and it took a while to build up the confidence to believe in what I was doing. It is a similar position for many mothers who find that a response to ‘What do you do?’ is often met by ‘Never mind’ or ‘Oh well’ without an understanding of the value of raising a family and the sacrifices involved.

…‘The Big Society’…often meant the setting up of charities to help the more vulnerable. But who are the more vulnerable? How are they going to be helped and who is going to help them? I was listening to Radio 4 where a lady from the Centre for Policy Studies was talking about the Big Society and how it might be a good thing that public sector cuts would affect women in particular, forcing them to take up the more traditional roles in the home, looking after the elderly, the child care, the cleanliness of the streets…they would become the ‘workers of the Big Society!’. But one can not be inpsired by the idea of ‘The Big Society’ while the same government apparently discriminates against those who make an economic sacrifice to fulfill these roles. I would also point out that where a woman does take care of the home life it frees her husband to fulfill more charitable roles as well over and above his professional work.

I realise that it is much easier to cut the benefit to higher rate tax earners than to means test it (although tax credits were means tested) but does that make it right? Even in this current crisis. Is it right that the most obvious question that arises is: ‘Would we be better off if we were estranged?’ Are a family on an income of £45K with more than 2 children really the ‘well off’ in society?

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