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Guest Blog: Labour MP Rachel Reeves on the 'Mummy Tax' - what do you think?

(49 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 07-Dec-12 17:34:11

In the Autumn Statement this week, it was announced that statutory maternity pay and maternity allowance would rise by just 1%: below inflation, and therefore a real-terms cut for working mothers.

In our guest blog, the Labour MP Rachel Reeves (who is expecting her first child next year) examines what her party are calling a 'Mummy Tax' - and questions the fairness of the cut.

So do have a read, and let us know what you think. Will you be affected by cuts to maternity pay - or might these changes affect your future plans for a family? Do you agree that women with children are being disproportionately targeted? Post on the thread, and if you blog on this issue, don't forget to link us to your blog.

Please note: Although guest bloggers are invited by MNHQ to post their blog for the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, each guest blogger's opinions are his or her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of MNHQ.

mrscogon34thstreet Fri 07-Dec-12 22:49:34

Rachel, congratulations on your pregnancy, and good luck with it all, having had my own first child this year, I can only say that for me it has been a wonderful time.

However, I despise this latest Labour ‘Mummy Tax’ campaign. For one, the name ‘Mummy tax’ is hugely patronising and sexist for people in a relationship as my husband benefits from maternity pay just as much as me as all our household income is pooled. And let’s be clear although there is a real terms cut due to the rate of inflation, this change is not a tax. As Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury you would have familiarised yourself with the definition of a tax by now. I am not physically handing over income because I am a mother. I am no cheerleader of this current government, but I hate the acrimonious, class war style that your party (and your blog post) is taking. You make it sound as though money which women on ML currently receive is going to be taken away, which isn’t the case at all.

I am not one of those people who lay the blame for the financial crisis solely at the feet of the last Labour government but why were we so horrendously ill prepared? No money was shored up for bad times during the longest period of economic growth we ever saw, your government allowed the cost of housing to skyrocket which only lead to more wealth to accumulate in the hands of those who owned property. If your government had controlled the cost of housing then people wouldn’t be feeling the pinch nearly as badly now.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 07-Dec-12 23:42:17

Good post mrscogon.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 08-Dec-12 07:15:31

Excellent post, mrscogon. The only people I want calling me mummy are those I grew in my uterus, thanks. And tax is just factually inaccurate.

Off to read the blog now.

Good to see the disclaimer, Kate smile

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 08-Dec-12 07:32:50

Ok I have read it now.

Rachel, I think the amount of maternity leave women take has been and will continue to be influenced by their previous income and the overall income and expenses of their household. SMP and MA, whether inflation linked or not, are simply not enough for things to be otherwise.

What proportion of the "lost" £180 is in the first six weeks?

Separately, which are the tax measures that are saving those earning £1m+ £107,0

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 08-Dec-12 07:35:35

Ok I have read it now.

Rachel, I think the amount of maternity leave women take has been and will continue to be influenced by their previous income and the overall income and expenses of their household. SMP and MA, whether inflation linked or not, are simply not enough for things to be otherwise.

What proportion of the "lost" £180 is in the first six weeks?

Separately, which are the tax measures that are saving those earning £1m+ £107,000?

I do agree regarding the low number of women in the cabinet .

poorbuthappy Sat 08-Dec-12 07:44:07

What mrscog said. Brilliant post.

Elegantlybasted Sat 08-Dec-12 09:33:11

I also agree with the post of mrscog. I'd also add that I'm not clear about what the Labour Party would be doing if they were in power. In my recollection before the last election you were planning deep cuts yourself. I haven't heard what Labour's alternatives are, bar spending more - isn't that what helped us get in this state in the first place? The cost of housing has the biggest impact on whether women, not "mummy's" can go back to work. When I had my daughter, we could afford that I stayed at home for my maternity leave, because we hadn't had to take out a stupidly large mortgage to buy somewhere to live. The housing market in this country has been ramped up to the point where couples find it impossible to get on the housing ladder without taking into account 2 full time incomes, losing £180 in maternity pay really doesn't come in to it.
I'd also question the huge tax break you mention for millionaires, what is this?

PastaDee Sat 08-Dec-12 09:46:54

I agree with OPs who have said 'mummy tax' is ridiculous term.

I'm not a conservative voter but a 1% increase in maternity allowances seems fair to me given that all benefit rides are limited to 1%.

As a public serving I am subject to a pay freeze so the concept of anything increasing payment wise is alien to me. I'd love a 1% rise on my salary but I'm not going to get it. Perhaps that skews my view of a 1% rise in maternity allowances?

mrscogon34thstreet Sat 08-Dec-12 10:11:34

PastaDee I may be wrong but I think it was announced in the Autumn statement that public sector pay will be rising by around 1% - so you might get your 1% rise after all. Don't quote me though.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 08-Dec-12 10:15:23

I'm sorry but boo fucking hoo.

I've had a pay freeze for the last 3 years. Were any MPs figting my corner no they bloody weren't.

My pay rises for the next 3 years will only be 1%.

So yes, in effect I will have a pay cut for 6 years.

Welcome to the real world. It's shit.

TrillsCarolsOutOfTune Sat 08-Dec-12 10:56:12

I think that's a hideous phrase.

expatinscotland Sat 08-Dec-12 11:18:20

Great post, mrscogon. And what a horribly patronising misnomer. This isn't a tax or even a cut, it's a rate freeze, in line with other state benefits barring pensions (no change to Winter Fuel Allowance or free bus passes, either).

Also, low-income women like me have been compelled to go back to work less than 6 months after giving birth for years, and Ms Reeve is just now getting clued up about this because she's having a baby? hmm

I went back when my DD1 was 2 months old 9 years ago and when DD2 was 4 months old 6 years ago.

A 1% freeze wouldn't have made any difference, I was paid full whack by my employer and when they ran out, I couldn't afford the 10% drop.

Them's the breaks, Ms Reeve, that's what's been the real world for us for years, and I doubt strongly that Ms Reeve will feel any pinch at all - I'm certain the maternity package we work to provide MPs with is far, far more generous than most of us get in the real world.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 08-Dec-12 13:01:21

YY expat.

MiniTheMinx Sat 08-Dec-12 15:31:15

Just had a quick read through the blog post and I am struggling to see any hint of class war rhetoric in there.

I agree with others this isn't a tax. Perhaps if labour spoke clearly they might have more support.

Women on low wages relying at statutory maternity pay have always been at a disadvantage. I was lucky I got full pay for most of my leave and full pay minus 10% for approx two months leave. I worked in the public sector (11 years ago now) Before anyone bleats about how unfair it is, if you work for a private company that maximises it's profits from your labour.....it is between you and your employer, take it up with them, join a union, don't bleat like winging children. The fault lies with greedy business owners and corporations that maximise profits from your labour, perhaps if so many were not tax dodging the state might have the money to pay a decent statutory allowance, or if they were not so greedy, perhaps private business could fund it's own workforce.

You can't have it all ways unless you are one of the wealthy, or a corporate citizen and then the state becomes a very generous benefactor.

It's about time the labour party started to represent _working people_ again, the whole history of peoples day to day lives has been about class struggle. Labour lacks all credibility because most people realise that providing a strong state sector and a decent welfare state is incompatible with unregulated capitalism and pandering to the city.

The labour party is a lost cause because it has lost its way, has no credibility and lacks any clear purpose.

Jcee Sun 09-Dec-12 09:43:46

Fab posts mrscogan, expat and minitheminx

Like viva I've had a no pay rise for the last 3 years and we are getting nothing this year and told to expect the same for the next 2-3 years - is that a tax? No, it's just the real world and I have to get on with it. I've had a child during that time and we had to work around what we could afford with regard to length of maternity leave and to be honest £180 would have made no difference whatsoever.

I despise the term "mummy tax" - its a patronising media friendly sound bite, which creates a hugely distracting perception of the middle class having to cut back on cappuccinos whilst on maternity leave which removes debate from the real issue.

I woud like to see the labour party setting out what it would do in power and challenging the government instead of wheeling yet more spin and inaccurate bluster

MoreBeta Sun 09-Dec-12 12:51:54

Yes really excellent really posts above.

Raising maternity allowance by 1% keeps it in line with wages which are hardly rising or indeed falling for many people in both nominal and real terms.

The thing that should be being talked about is how Govt and Bank of England policies have created inflation that relentlessly outstrips wage increases. Labour deliberately pursued inflationary polices and the Bank of England went along with it. The ConDems are doing no better.

No one in the political class and senior civil service wants to discuss how terrible inflationary polices are undermining living standards of ordinary people. They prefer the yaboo narrow politics of Westminster village while looking out for their next part time Directorship while pulling down nice inflation protected salaries and pensions and enjoying sky rocketing house prices in their nice tax payer funded homes.

MAKES ME SICK!!!

EdgarAllanPond Sun 09-Dec-12 15:32:25

echo vlb

our department has been limited to 0.5% increase for a while

so being on mat leave (as i am for the fourth time) 1% looks fine.

again - this isn't a tax. it's a restriction of benefit increase.

the stringent planning and building regulation brought in by Labour in our area has meant nothing getting built and nothing's going to get built, even in the downturn house prices have stayed steady consequentially. the condems aren't really looking to change that though.

expatinscotland Sun 09-Dec-12 17:35:05

Salient points, Beta.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 09-Dec-12 19:42:45

Rachel I'm very interested to know what Labour would have done in this instance instead? Would you be looking to increase benefits by more across the board, and if so what you be cutting instead to pay for it?

As Elegantlybasted said, Labour were apparently planning cuts of the same percentage as the Coalition. So where would you have cut to allow an increase of >1% to SMP?

We are now past the mid-point of this parliament, and Labour are still to come forward with any concrete policies. How can they possible hope to be a credible alternative to the current administration, when all they can say is 'well we wouldn't be doing that'?

Caerlaverock Sun 09-Dec-12 21:26:31

Maybe speaking to women like adults instead some infantilised version of women developed in a think tank would go down better?

verysqueezedmiddle Sun 09-Dec-12 22:05:17

I really don't see why so many posters are offended by the term mummy tax. Ok so it may not technically be a tax. But it is a cut and it will predominantly affect mothers as it will apply to maternity leave . But let's understand why this short hand has been used. Because most of the women who will be affected are not the well read mumsnetters that seem to have been posting views on this blog. They are the overwhelming number of women who will simply see the tough times they face financially when on maternity leave become even tougher by around another £180. Newspapers and media in general are lazy just as many of the public are too lazy to read the detail of autumn statements or budgets. They need the shorthand and the mood music. Mummy tax gives a flavour of what is happening. I am all for it (the phrase rather than the cut)

FloatyBeatie Sun 09-Dec-12 22:18:23

I think it goes beyond simplification, though, right the way through to stupidity and patronising dishonesty. I'm a fiscal-statements numpty and even I find it annoying to refer to a real-terms cut as a tax. But that is less annoying than the use of the word mummy, which speaks of a kind of reflex homage to an electorally important constituency (women) that Labour seems to be treating as a resource that is theirs for the taking, just because the Tories do an even worse job of taking women seriously. "Mumsnet election," "mummy tax" -- those are weasel terms that suggests women can be bought by casual flattery. They are the political equivalent of flowers bought from the petrol station on the way home.

expatinscotland Sun 09-Dec-12 22:20:48

Because this is an invididual with a taxpayer-funded home (possibly more than one, and not a minging, damp flat like she can be turfed out of with two-months' notice as so many of the working poor have to live), an incredibly generous pay/pension and expensese package (including maternity beyond SMP) who has just now picked up this baton because she's pregnant with PFB and then labelled it with a patronising misnomer. 'Mummy'. 'tax'. It's not even a cut. It's a freeze below the level of inflation, the same types of pay freezes we in the real world have experienced for years whilst no one in Parliament seemed to give a toss.

verysqueezedmiddle Sun 09-Dec-12 22:27:58

Expat that is a bit unfair. You complain when the politicians take no notice of your issues, and then you complain and make personal attacks when they do. They can't win.
Loads of women were mesmerised by Cameron and Clegg in 2010 with women overwhelmingly voting in the coalition. Now it is screwing them big time. Women, especially mothers are being hit hardest by the range of freezes and cuts. If this resonates with women and gets them to think before they vote next time, it is worth it to have a shorthand term.

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