Tax-free childcare - government consultation - have your say.

(58 Posts)
KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Sep-13 16:06:47

Hi there

The government are currently holding a consultation on their tax-free childcare proposal.

The policy, announced by David Cameron in March is a money-back scheme where working parents can get 20% of the cost of their annual childcare costs up to a maximum of £1,200 a child. It is open to all families where both parent’s work or one parent works in single-parent families. The scheme will initially be for parents of children under the age of five, but it's the government's intention to extend that eventually to parents of children under the age of 12.

You can read Mumsnet’s guide to the programme here, the discussion thread at the time of the announcement here and the full consultation doc from the government here.

If you'd like to feedback your views, the government are asking about how the vouchers might work, how eligibility should be determined and for other thoughts on the programme.

To feedback your views via a government questionnaire you can click here

Or to provide a fuller response you can click here to download a response form.

We will also collate comments here and submit them to the treasury. The closing date for the overall consultation is the 14th October, but the closing date for the questionnaire is this Friday – the 27th.

Best MNHQ

weddingballs Thu 26-Sep-13 01:05:29

It doesn't go far enough.

And don't get me started on SAHM whinging they're being penalised for/missing out on childcare help.

WidowWadman Thu 26-Sep-13 06:52:50

"If someone wants to work full time let them, not everyone wants to."

Childcare costs mean that not everyone who wants to can. I don't really see how this policy would force anyone to work who doesn't want to? It's not about making childcare compulsory, but helping people who need it access it. It's certainly not perfect as I said earlier, but it's not about forcing SAHPs into the workhouse.

merrymouse Thu 26-Sep-13 07:23:35

Agree with general trend of this thread. It's difficult to see how this will be an improvement for some. On the other hand, plenty of people (and it's mainly women) are carers for children who aren't so easy to slot into childcare, whatever their age, e.g. those with SN, older children, and adult dependants.

I would like there to be incentives for companies who enable all carers to work more flexibly (e.g. remotely, in school hours/around the support they can receive, returning to work), rather than the current rather Gradgrind approach of "all your employees are probably trying to fleece you".

It's nowhere near enough.

I work outside the home. I want to work, I worked hard to get where I am in my field and don't want to take a substantial career break as it would be very hard to get back in. I'm also a better person for working, staying at home is bad news for me, mental health wise. Everyone is different I know.

So, both my husband and I work full time. I work for a charity, he's an engineer. We earn the same, a reasonable income, above average I believe but not enough for luxuries, holidays etc. Children in childcare 4 days a week, 1 day with family (We are lucky). Childcare is 1300 a month. That is almost three quarters of my salary. I recently changed to full time hours and the increase in salary was wiped out by childcare. I love working and I love my job, but if I didn't, I'd need a substantial incentive to return to work - otherwise I really would be working for nothing (actually paying to work, given costs for travel, clothing etc)

It's constantly worrying and we're not on the breadline by any stretch...

merrymouse Thu 26-Sep-13 07:37:13

For instance, that policy where you were incentivised (as little as £2K in shares) for signing away your rights to working flexibly/redundancy pay was inspired. hmm

merrymouse Thu 26-Sep-13 07:40:31

Also, as an election policy, it's no more/less than what higher earner single parents lost when CB was taken away (depending on number of children). Whoop de doo.

MrsH2010 Thu 26-Sep-13 08:34:24

I think this is yet another box ticked. We said we'd cover childcare for 'real' famies- job done. What rubbish!!! Why does this cover families who both work? This alone shows how out oftouch with real families the government are! Many SAHM's do so because they simply can't afford to re-enter the work place as a result of archaic childcare systems. This measure would realistically do little or nothing to change that. I don't know many (any?) families who can afford all their childcare until age 4 or 5 when children enter school, they all struggle to go back to work leaning heavily on grandparents who have had their time being carers of kids. Why is it that the government believes 4 or 5 is the age at which mum's can afford to stay off until, at which point 'childcare' is paid for?? The current system of childcare vouchers is a major barrier, not a help, as it is per parent, NOT per child- so with several children close together there is a have an have not system from the start instead of equal opportunity for all- remembering that this is not 'free' but a small perk for a hardworking family man IF their company does it.

I think this new measure is far too little, and too discriminatory. Please take a look at the way the Scandinavian counties set up their pre-school and early years childcare and take a leaf out of their book Mr Cameron. For an apparently forwards country we are still in the dark ages, relying on an elderly generation to take up the slack that your government doesn't want to address with anything more than a token measure.

blondieminx Thu 26-Sep-13 08:43:09

Children of 5 cannot look after themselves; working parents need childcare cover which wraps around school hours.

...And the govt wants to introduce a scheme which only applies to kids under 5 and only for working parents?

What a way to simultaneously piss off parents of kids aged 5 and over AND those who cannot work due to caring responsibilities/health issues/lack of realistic employment. hmmhmmhmm

Just because I am a working parent does NOT mean that I am willing to see carers shafted yet again angry as part of this monumentally deluded scheme.

Manchesterhistorygirl Thu 26-Sep-13 09:39:45

Here's a case study as to why some mums chose to stay at home.

When I was pregnant with ds2 I worked set days and a team of working mums had come to an arrangement with HR that covered the working week. (Shift pattern 7 days a week). When I went into work to discuss my retiring to work I was informed that I would be put back on a rolling rota and my days would move every week. Shifts started at 0500 or 0400 and finished between 1900 and 2100. How on earth could I arrange childcare on that basis given that dh works "9-5" Monday to Friday.

His hours in reality were more like 7-6 and he was away 2-3 nights most weeks. I spoke to the nursery that had been ds1's and they couldn't put me on a rolling contract for days and hours and neither could other nurseries in the area. I do have my mum, but she goes away a lot, and why shouldn't she? She's done her child rearing and whilst she loves having the boys no way could we ask her to look after them from early am.

This is all before we even factored in cost. When we worked that out I discoverd that the cost of just ds2's nursery wiped out my wage and part of dh. Then we had to factor in wraparound for ds2. Then petrol. It was not sustainable, but I loved my job (not career, job) and wanted to go back, but simple the economics made it undo able as well as impractical given that hours. Luckily I was offered redundancy so I took that instead.

Now dh works a 100 mile round trip commute everyday and his hours mean that I have to be here to do the childcare (school runs, etc).

Does this explain why some of us end up staying at home? We lost our cb and dh is now essentially trapped at the company he works for or he will lose childcare vouchers. Which we are saving for when I do return to employment.

littlemisswise Thu 26-Sep-13 11:11:56

What SAHPs are saying is not whinging or "politics of envy".

Everyone who has children uses childcare of some sort, wether that be a childminder, a nursery or a SAHP. So if the Government are giving out tax breaks inorder for people who pay for childcare to keep more of their earnings, why can they not extend them to families where one person works and one person stays at home so they keep more of their earnings too?

wordfactory Thu 26-Sep-13 11:14:24

I'd like to see tax breaks for child care whatever the reason a person used it. Work. Study. Caring for other DC or relatives. Unpaid work.

I suspect if that was introduced many more parents would go back to work. And many more would retrain, potentially entering the work place later.

I suspect that in the longer term it would pay for itself as a policy.

missinglalaland Thu 26-Sep-13 11:24:48

As a SAHP, I don't want free childcare, I want some of the money I am saving the state to come back to my family (or not be taken off my working pattern in the first place.)
Frankly, we would spend it on health, nutrition and education. Not fancy cars and foreign holidays as some people like to caricature.

missinglalaland Thu 26-Sep-13 11:25:17

Not "pattern" it should be "partner."

Snelldog Thu 26-Sep-13 11:44:16

Just increase the amount of childcare vouchers people can buy - surely this has to be the cheapest way of achieving this?

merrymouse Thu 26-Sep-13 11:52:18

Hmm. Maybe you could introduce some kind of flat per child benefit/tax break for everybody with children... Maybe call it 'child allowance' or something...

frogwatcher42 Thu 26-Sep-13 12:48:37

Just ensure a living wage and then people can make their own choices. Stop subsidizing business etc by giving 'benefits' here and there while most people continue to genuinely struggle to survive. This would benefit most families with one or two workers and would not discriminate against those with a parent at home.

Make work worthwhile with a living wage and the government can stop having to pay for childcare, free school meals, tax credits etc. Then make all companies offer flexible working around children and there would not be such a need for childcare.

Rubberstamp Thu 26-Sep-13 13:12:07

The whole cost of childcare should be tax deductible. Quite clearly. Why limit to the current £243 a month or £1,200 a year (even less that the £243 tax saving, especially with two earners).
Full time nursery is c£1000 a month. I have one in FT nursery and one in afterschool care (£11 a day) about £160 a month on average. So I'm paying out £13,920 a year on childcare. At basic rate, I have to earn £16-17k to afford that.
Should be a tax allowable expense that either parent can claim regardless of what the other parent does or does not do.
Easy and cheapest way to do this is to expand the current voucher system (mandate employers to take part) and allow employees to choose the amount they wish to take.

nancerama Thu 26-Sep-13 13:30:18

SAHM aren't "whinging" because they want free or subsidised childcare. Not all SAHM do so by choice, but by circumstance.

Not paying for nursery doesn't mean raising a child is free from all costs. Unlike my friends who use full time childcare, I have to feed my family 3 meals a day, heat the house during the day in the winter. Pay for craft items and activities. It's not the £60 a day a nursery demands, but nothing comes for free.

wordfactory Thu 26-Sep-13 14:17:26

See I can see why a SAHP would say that these proposals don't go far enough, and that the tax breaks should be offered to more parents than just those in paid employment.

I completely agree with that sentiment.

But some/many SAHPs seem to saying 'If I can't have it, then no one should.'

And I find that baffling.

These tax breaks will be no use to me. No use at all. But I don't begrudge those who can use them.

doorchairsettee Thu 26-Sep-13 14:28:22

Dear Treasury,

I can solve this whole thing so easily, raise minimum wage to the level that one income supports an average family to a comfortable but not luxurious level, including paying into an independant pension for both partners.

Then those that want one parent to stay at home can afford to and those that want a more luxurious lifestyle can work for it.

This choice would free up jobs currently taken by people who would prefer to be at home for those that wouldn't and completely eliminate the need for tax credits, housing benefit and other top up benefits for able bodied families meaning cuts wouldn't have to be made to help for the disabled and there carers.

I say all this as a working mother who would have loved to have stayed at home with my children, I also think that the age you expect parents to look for work under universal credit should be raised to 7 (starting junior school) rather than 5.

Ahardyfool Thu 26-Sep-13 14:38:18

Oh, and the relevance of our responses will be...?

Exactly what interest does DC have in the issues faced by working parents on low incomes?

Bonsoir Thu 26-Sep-13 14:41:01

I think that the political course that consists of monetary reward through fiscal advantage for certain behaviours that are advantageous largely for the ruling élite is totally doomed.

Bonsoir Thu 26-Sep-13 14:44:20

I think it was in Latin America (Mexico? maybe other countries too) that a fashion took hold a few years ago for monetary rewards to parents for getting children vaccinated, sending them to school etc - basically paying people to adopt the specific behaviours the government desired.

It's distasteful, patronising and fruitless. Even if you force the population into doing things they won't vote love you for it.

Snelldog Thu 26-Sep-13 15:23:11

tax breaks should be offered to more parents than just those in paid employment

Surely they are not paying any income tax - unless they have significant investment or other income to tax?

wordfactory Thu 26-Sep-13 15:31:57

Tax credits.

Or perhaps being allowed to pay your tax break forward. It would be a huge boon to someone looking for work, or taking on, say an internship...

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