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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Full-time mums I respect you - but please don’t expect me to pay for you

At risk of stirring a hornets’ nest and being stung mercilessly with barbed hatred and derision, I have something to confess.

In one simple respect and probably for the first – maybe even the last – time, I agree with George Osborne.

He hasn’t entered my top 10 list of favourite people – not even at number 50. He doesn’t push any of my buttons as a man with an ounce of sympathy for or understanding of anyone not mentioned in the Rich List. He’s not my pin-up boy. So, no change there then.

But when he says mums who stay at home to care for their children didn’t ought to be receiving taxpayers’ money to pay for childcare, he’s spot on.

Predictably the Chancellor came in for a barrage of abuse and protest from all the usual suspects when he detailed plans to grant working parents up to £1,200 for each child to help with childcare costs but said he would withhold the benefit from families where one parent was staying home to look after the kids.

Critics have reacted angrily, accusing him of devaluing motherhood, penalising stay-at-home mums (and dads) who put their children first.

Higher income families have complained most bitterly that they have already lost out on child benefit and want to know why they should suffer again for being model parents.

Lower income families, on the whole, don’t have an option. Where they can find work, they tend to take it. Sometimes more than two jobs each to make ends meet.

It seems Osborne’s mistake came with his foot-in-mouth statement, a gaffe of the highest order. He told what was close to the truth but told it badly.

He said mothers who stayed at home for full-time parenting had made a “lifestyle choice”, suggesting they’d made their own beds and should lie on them without the cushion of lovely state funded lolly.

What was wrong with that? Well, it was tactless certainly. But in a way, not so far from a reality that should have been accepted ages ago.

His scheme will be available to up to 2.5 million households with working parents and will allow them to claim back 20 per cent of childcare costs – which can all but wipe out the salary of a mother working to keep the family afloat. Not much. But it’s a start.

But why would anyone think it right to pay your money and mine into the pockets of parents who have no need of outside childcare?

If they’re not paying money out to childminders and nurseries, why should we be paying it in to their accounts?

Yes, parenting is the most valuable job there is. Good parenting is precious and personal and the best start in life any child could hope for.

But it is not the place of government to reward couples for giving birth with a financial handout. The Government – any government – has no money of its own, it distributes and dispenses that which it has taken from us.

Being a mother is a hugely important job. You full-time mums have my limitless respect for undertaking it with love, sacrifice, commitment and a responsibility that makes most other careers seem meaningless by comparison.

Well done you for devoting your life to it.

Just don’t expect my admiration to run to the point of paying you a wage for it.

Have your say

The older generation never use to get any money to help with children. If people know its not a bed of roses why do they choose to keep on producing. Then they complain about the costs.

Posted by Roy on 11 September 2013 at 08:02

goverment makes me laff they say familys only to have 1 or 2 children then a couple of years after hit them all with bedroom tax, im a single dad and its not a bed of roses staying at home looking after your child, dont forget either you only get help with your first 2 children, and you just dont sit at home getting more money children keep growing so clothes uniforms etc are constantly needed so your budget is nearly gone there alone. its not a bed of roses like many think. they maybe should do something about flooding the country with alsorts before attacking the least off

Posted by andy cap on 10 September 2013 at 12:11

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