Family friendly policies - what would really help you?

(86 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Sep-08 15:00:17

We're in party conference season and wondered what family - friendly policies Mumsnetters would come up with if we had our own Mumsnet Party conference.

A couple of recent quotes from politicans to get us started:

Tory MP Michael Grove said recently "In Sweden, the introduction of flexible parental leave helped increase the amount of time fathers spent with their young children and helped the divorce rate fall by 30%"

Do you think there is a link between fathers' involvement in childcare and family breakdown? And if so what could gov do to help with this?

Then there's the old chestnut of transferable tax allowances for married couples - would that help you/ your family?

We're sure y'all will have tons of other ideas as well as thoughts on these suggestions, so over to you - the Mumsnet party grin

Bramshott Thu 25-Sep-08 09:56:47

An end to this insane work culture where a job doesn't really count unless you do it in an office, between the hours of 8am and 7pm each day (let's not con ourselves that we work 9-5 hey?) and it consumes all your waking hours.

Accept that there are many, many reasons why people may want to work more flexibly (yes young children, but also elderly parents, helping teenagers with exams, and getting a better work/life balance ffs, particularly in the years leading up to retirement) and that it is better to have motivated employees who want to work for you, rather than just those employees who are prepared to be a prescence in the office for the aforementioned hours.

An end to the attitude that says "well women choose to have children and must accept the consequences of that" and realise that (a) two parents choose to have children, and (b) we would all be fucked as a society and as an economy if they didn't.

<<climbs down off soapbox - well you did ask!!>>

mummyclare Thu 25-Sep-08 09:53:42

I agree abouteve not just for the sake of the mothers either. I think a lot of children would benefit hugely from it. I understand that, some kids arrive at school aged nearly 5 ill prepared for it and with bad behavioral problems that could have been prevented with help earlier on.

abouteve Thu 25-Sep-08 09:46:57

lol at costume making. I can remember the womens' libbers in the 60's carrying around banners demanding 'free 24 hour child care'. (Saw it on TV). This was a backlash of course to the fact that women had been expected to stay at home looking after children.

I sense through mumsnet that mothers seem to be going against the liberation movement and wish to stay at home with their children. There was anger at Gordon Browns proposal to make free nursery places available to 2 year olds.

As I've always had to combine motherhood with working I'd say a balance is ideal. Therefore think that childcare should be free to all. Part-time, full-time whatever suits your circumstances.

WilfSell Thu 25-Sep-08 09:37:46

grin at ban costume making.

Oh yes please.

mummyclare Thu 25-Sep-08 09:33:39

After learning all about it from the parallel thread on working with school aged kids:

Ban graduated starts at primary school.
Make every school provide wrap around childcare
Ban inset days / half days of any sort
More full time childcare provision in school holiday time
Ban costume making

1dilemma Wed 24-Sep-08 21:52:25

I like blueshoes idea about tax rebates grin it would be cheaper to administer, addresses a few goverment policies (regardless of whether they are right or wrong grin) and solves a few thorny problems!

But there again it's one of the few ideas on here I would actually benefit from!

I still say tax deductible childcare, I have even written to the gov about this (but got no reply!)

1dilemma Wed 24-Sep-08 21:49:26

Sorry lemontart I find your post quite ?offensive surely if you are self employed it is your responsibility to sort out your own pension which will have tax deductible contributions in the same way everyone else does, you say that you chose to be self-employed for the benefits it brings you as a family yet you expect me to pay for that choice despite the fact it has no benefits for me? I read somewhere recently that the average self employed person pays tax on an income in the 30,000s yet has the lifestyle of someone earning in the 50,000s. Maybe a good accountant would help? there was a (s/e)mumsnetter a while ago who said they had an income of 55K based on the tax they paid yet another (?Jura) pointed out it was more like 85K and they just had a good accountant.

I agree with you about school funding yet you neatly manage to include self employed workers in those who keep schools going but why not the employed? My dc is one of only 4 children in the class where both parents work F/T yet I managed to go in for 3 afternoons last year. I was the second parent to turn up at all! (I have a super inflexible employer!) Lots of employed parents are school governors/help out at fairs etcetc.Plenty of workers take work home with them too have you never seen a teacher thread on here!

I'm not disagreeing with the assumption that more is done during school hours by SAHM but I resent the way your post implies that people employed externally can't/don't do their bit

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Wed 24-Sep-08 11:03:32

If my husband was taxed one band lower to take into account the fact that my job is unpaid.

Lemontart Wed 24-Sep-08 10:32:52

I wish there was more support/recognition or even awareness of the needs of self employed parents.

At the moment there is nothing useful at all for us as parents with young children. We (DH and I) made the choice to become self employed so we could work from home and both share the responsibility and joy of bringing up our children in the maximum "hands on" way. Whilst it means we don’t have to fight for, or "explain" time off to an unsympathetic boss, if one of our children is sick, we end up looking after the child in the day and work ourselves into the ground late into the night to catch up on missed work. We could never afford unpaid paternity or maternity leave - juggling work hours and 24/7 shifts between us.
Being self employed is great for the family in all ways except financially. I gave up a well paid job with decent pension plan for my family and in return I have no pension, no security and no support or recognition from anyone other than each other. If our company goes under, the government is not about to bail us out! There would just be a shrug of shoulders and a fat bill to pay.

My other main irritation is the presumption that parents take on and give up their time to help in them community to support and back up what the government should really be covering - like the PTA funding important school equipment and valuable extra curricular activities that should really be "curricular" but the school cannot prioritise with limited funds. Same with playgroups and other child based organisations.
It is the self employed "flexi hours" parents and the SAH parents that keep the voluntary side of community/child care going during the day, but there is no real recognition of the roles many of us play. How else would many playgroups survive without the voluntary parents at home? or the helping out in the primary schools - I give up several hours a week to go in and read. WIthout about 6 or 7 or us doing this, the school could never afford extra staff to cover what we provide. Same with after school clubs (netball, photography club, media club etc etc etc) run by parents. We are happy to juggle our day to help out and do our bit, happy to work at night instead to make up the hours or to not apply for a full time job as people feel they are too committed to supporting and being involved in community child care - unpaid work not recognised or seemingly valued by anyone other than the children and fellow parents.

(sorry rambling post, brain not totally in gear yet - up all night working late to meet a deadline as spent yesterday nursing a child with stomach bug..)

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 24-Sep-08 09:59:26

and our particular work/family situation means we need the flexibility of a nanny

SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 24-Sep-08 09:57:12

i should not have to pay my children's nanny -- and her tax -- out of income that has already been heavily taxed, in order to work and pay even more tax.

elliott Wed 24-Sep-08 09:49:55

Totally against tax breaks as these favour the affluent. Would rather have more access to cheaper good childcare (by subsidy to the provider) than more money for me to pay for it.

expatinscotland Wed 24-Sep-08 09:48:09

how about more non-traditional hours childcare?

not every working parent can work 9-5.

that time slot severely limits a lot of people and forces them not to go back to work after having children, particularly if they are lone parents. or keeps them out of work and on benefits.

elliott Wed 24-Sep-08 09:46:18

Oh yes, and more high quality state subsidised childcare and out of school care. This cannot be done on the cheap. Better to have good quality affordable care directly provided, than lots of complicated voucher schemes and other things designed to stimulate a 'market'. Cheap childcare is very frightening.
Agree also about SATs.

elliott Wed 24-Sep-08 09:44:33

More emphasis on help for those with school age children - like easier access to annualised hours, shorter school holidays, better quality holiday clubs, not assuming that need for support ends at 11...
I didn't realise how easy I had it when they were preschoolers...

blueshoes Wed 24-Sep-08 09:31:46

Hi peabody, my company ties up with a nursery to offer just that. A drop in nursery if there is an emergency break down in childcare.

The other area is parents wilfully defaulting on maintenance payments or not respecting custodial orders and denying contact. Not sure what the solution is, but just throwing it into the mix.

blueshoes Wed 24-Sep-08 09:28:37

Probably been said before ... but here goes:

Extending maternity benefits to fathers as well, such that fathers can take paid paternity pay/leave as well as mothers (sharing, total combined limit). So it is the same theoretical risk to employers of employing men as women, as one step in a sea change.

Flexible working regulations with more teeth.

Simplified tax breaks for parents eg £x tax rebate/relief per child + tax relief for childcare expenses and school fees up to a limit (thought I would slip that in!). Not sure why it is necessary to do things with vouchers and tax credits/refunds etc. Just leave it to the parents to claim in their income tax returns.

More subsidies/tax breaks for childminders, nurseries etc so they can lower their costs.

Think Ofsted has gone a bit crazy on their Early Years' Curriculum or whatever it is now called and the paperwork it generates - so some push back on that.

Peabody Wed 24-Sep-08 08:19:07

I know it will never happen, but imagine if there were creches where you could drop your kids for an hour or two, and pay for this on an hourly basis.

This would make a huge difference to me.

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 24-Sep-08 00:51:22

Lets start at the beginning.....

Antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care to be family inclusive and family friendly. Homebirths to be encouraged - obviously if not primagravida. (although not excluding it).

Better pat/maternity leave, pay, and flexibility.

Increase the maximum provision of childcare vouchers - in fact I think it should be entirely tax deductable. Less penalisation for those who use family to assist in childcare - incentives for family-centred childcare would be good.

Normalising and encouragement of men doing part time/flexible working. Job specs to be banned from specifying "Full Time Only".

Discounted family travel tickets.

Tax credits system to be linked more directly with PAYE system to save arduous completion of forms that relies mostly on information HMRC already have. It should be an 'opt out' not 'opt in' system. Tax code calculation to simplify procedure perhaps?

Tax relief greater for those working in childcare professions.

More areas for outside childrens play in built up, city areas. More allotment plots to be made available for families and not just doddery old-folk with too much time on their hands.

ENsure that suppliers of food are much more detailed in their contents and nutritional information. McDonalds is a good example of this actually!

1dilemma Tue 23-Sep-08 23:37:49

I totally fail to see why a transferrable tax allowance is a good thing surely it's the perk of doing paid work? that and going to the toilet unaccompanied grin

convince me someone please
tell me the reasons why

1dilemma Tue 23-Sep-08 23:36:20

What trixy said 1000 times over

plus making voucher scheme compulsory (if we can't just submit our bills) plus encouraging employers to offer flexible working plus get rid of the long hours culturs and bring in some compressed hours, why can't I start work at 9.15 after a 9 am drop off, why can't I take 2 hours early one day to get a sight test or a dentist appointment or come in 2 hours late after a trip

But really convince me why tax deductable childcare can't happen? I would then actually end the month wiht a net profit for working grin

Soapbox Tue 23-Sep-08 23:19:14

Oh and to all those posters who have been on their soapboxes today - GERROFFMEgrin

Soapbox Tue 23-Sep-08 23:17:34

I would want employers to have to report on a number of different metrics to do with equality of opportunity of male and female workforce, and if they meet 'excellent' criteria then they qualify for a reduction in corporation tax of a percentage or two.

In these troubled times, I would want to ensure that a disproportionate number of people on flexible working packages are not made redundant. This was rife as a fairly shoddy practice in the early 90's! A whole generation of people on flexible working arrangements were cleared out of professional practices at that time! I would hate to see that happen again!

hatwoman Tue 23-Sep-08 23:02:42

mercy this outlines why the increase in maternity leave (as opposed to a decent system of parental leave) is not good for equality.

callmeovercautious Tue 23-Sep-08 23:01:43

Increase Childcare Vouchers to cover full time Nursery fees on one parents income or split between two if there are two in the home.

Promote the voucher scheme properly or even make it compulsary to employers as per stakeholder pensions. I work in HR and had no clue about setting up a scheme until I had DD and bullied our Finace Director into it. Loads have people have taken it up since.

Re-inforce the discrimination laws re part time workers. Apparently it is still OK to make snide comments about PT working even to an HR person (me!). Particularly the bit about returning to work in a different role with no difference in status - utter rubbish at present, anyone who drops their hours or even just starts leaving on time is seen as having less status. Go on Gordon see what you can do about the culture of UK business hmm

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