A message from Harriet Harman - Minister for Women and Equality - how is the credit crunch/recession is affecting you and how do you think Government can help?

(399 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 11-Feb-09 20:59:21

Harriet Harman writes:
We want to protect families from the credit crunch with real help. And we want to hear what Mumsnet are concerned about during this recession; what you want us to be doing about it; and what you want to see changed for the future. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is hosting an international Economic Summit in London (which President Obama will be coming to) in April to agree with other countries how we work together to get the global economy back on its feet and growing again. I want to hear from you and feed your views in to this summit.

Opinion polls tell us that women are more concerned about the impact of the recession than men, is that your view?
Is the recession affecting your family life and if so how?
Are you getting the advice and information you need if you ask for help?
What do you want to see government doing to help with that?
What do you think about bonuses?
How can we help women who want to start their own businesses?

justaboutindisguise Wed 11-Feb-09 21:01:08

I don't know the answer to any of the questions but can you tell her I think she's right to raise the issue of lapdancing being an issue of sexism in the workplace?
Seriously.

grin And I think bonuses are great as long as they are for me.

Littlefish Wed 11-Feb-09 21:01:27

Bump (while I think about it!)

scrooged Wed 11-Feb-09 21:01:38

I think the Government should close all the banks down and open credit unions in each city/town instead which are all government owned without shareholders or big bosses.

TheDevilWearsPrimark Wed 11-Feb-09 21:06:58

Screw our views, I wanna go!

PottyCock Wed 11-Feb-09 21:07:52

Is the recession affecting your family life and if so how?
Yes - we are only spending what we need and are both worried about our jobs so we're pretty narky with one another atm.
Are you getting the advice and information you need if you ask for help?
I haven't asked for help so can't answer this for you.
What do you want to see government doing to help with that?
Couldn't you do some sort of public info broadcast or website suggesting practical ways of accomodating the economic downturn at family level?
What do you think about bonuses?
They should be waived - it is a hideous disgrace that banks are even contemplating bonuses at this time, and makes a mockery of those who are suffering financially.
How can we help women who want to start their own businesses?
Funding, free business advice, interest free loans or tart-up grants, subsidised child care to allow women time to do this. Child care is a real issue for many women with young children, and lots end up having to accept that they will lose money on childcare while their children are young.

BigGitDad Wed 11-Feb-09 21:08:47

I guess being a dad counts me out then?grin

PottyCock Wed 11-Feb-09 21:09:08

tart-up grants? blush shock

PottyCock Wed 11-Feb-09 21:09:35

I'd have nothing to worry about if they introduced those!

shonaspurtle Wed 11-Feb-09 21:10:18

The only direct way that it's affected us at the moment is fear. Fear that dh might lose his job (financial sector) and fear that there might be a backlash against public sector spending and I might lose mine (NHS, non-frontline staff).

We're needing to move though and may well struggle to get a mortgage and struggle to sell our flat. I worry about that too.

I don't know what anyone can do really.

My gut feeling about bonuses is that it is wrong for them to be paid out by companies which would have gone bust if not for public money. I should imagine I'd feel differently though if I, or dh, was due one and I had worked hard and met my targets. The whole mess is not the fault of the majority of workers in these companies.

edam Wed 11-Feb-09 21:10:26

Yes, recession's affecting our family life - dh and I are very worried and cutting back as far as we can (and we weren't big spenders in the first place). It's making me very nervous - I'm self-employed but can't see how I can possibly even begin to think about paying into a pension.

I want to see the government sorting out the financial services industry, making sure it works for us, not the other way round.

As for bonuses, no bank given state aid should be paying a penny. Their employees - including the execs - wouldn't have a job if it weren't for taxpayers. Fleecing taxpayers to pay bonuses is theft.

Banks and financial organisations that have made a loss shouldn't pay bonuses, either.

We need to reform the banks and financial services so they focus on fair dealing, transparency, and long-term value, not chasing a quick buck and inflated profits in order to run away with a quick bonus while the going is good.

BCNS Wed 11-Feb-09 21:13:09

Is the recession affecting your family life and if so how? Not really.. but tbh where some opportunities close .. others open...

Are you getting the advice and information you need if you ask for help? When you have always worked..how do you know where to even ask for advice, or who to speak to or what you may be entitled to. It seem IMO that if you get help.. more help is offered and you know how the system works.. those who are new to it struggle to get any information.

What do you want to see government doing to help with that? Have a bog standard.. if you have this or you don't have that.. this is what you can get help with. Not talk to these people who pass you on to those people.

What do you think about bonuses? Bonuses should only be paid on performance.. it should not be a right.. it should be earned.

How can we help women who want to start their own businesses? IMO it's no different to a man on a start up.

snigger Wed 11-Feb-09 21:13:48

Childcare childcare childcare.

Motivating parents to start, or continue, working, will begin with the logistics of childcare.

As a rural dweller, I'm thankful for my stable marriage and DH's flexible self-employed hours - without them I'd have no chance of continuing with my current job.

Accessible, flexible, reliable childcare provision would make all the difference were my circumstances to alter.

Other than that, the recession isn't particularly biting us personally, we're in Scotland, traditionally last to feel the backlash, and have the benefit of savings behind us - although the stocks ISA part of those has been wiped out by a huge percentage, so I guess the net impact on us is that any return to the housing market will have to wait till our investments pick up a little.

Bicnod Wed 11-Feb-09 21:13:48

Is the recession affecting your family life and if so how?
Yes - we are both worried about our jobs and as I am pregnant with baby number one that is pretty stressful. We bought our flat at the peak of property prices and are concerned about being able to remortgage.
Are you getting the advice and information you need if you ask for help?
I haven't asked for any help.
What do you want to see government doing to help with that?
More help with childcare costs. My husband and I are hardly big earners - I work for a charity and he works for the NHS - but we earn too much to qualify for any kind of support with childcare costs. It doesn't exactly encourage women to return to work.
What do you think about bonuses?
They should be reduced at least, and waived altogether in any banks that have had government money pumped in to keep them going.

littlefrog Wed 11-Feb-09 21:14:32

Opinion polls tell us that women are more concerned about the impact of the recession than men, is that your view?
- No, I think men are just as worried, if they feel they're going to lose their jobs, or finances are getting difficult.

Is the recession affecting your family life and if so how?
- So far not much, but we're being more careful than usual about (not) spending money on e.g. holidays

Are you getting the advice and information you need if you ask for help?
- Haven't done so yet.

What do you want to see government doing to help with that?
-eh? To help with asking for help? Well, given that my first port of call for most things is the GP, NOT PRIVATISING them, as has happened to ours, would be a good first step. OK, opening hours are longer, but we used to have really dedicated long-serving drs; we now have endlessly changing locums. No midwife clinic. No continuity of care. No baby clinic. Harder to get appointments. Everyone miserable.

What do you think about bonuses?
- I think bonuses are not the issue. Big bonuses are (usually) only paid when there are big profits, and banks have made massive profits for many years, as a result of risky practices which they have not had to 'insure' against in any way, and which the taxpayer now has to pay up for. A bit more regulation and stupid-question-asking would be extremely helpful though.

How can we help women who want to start their own businesses?
- Loans... Though they have to be properly assessed - easy credit has been part of the problem, it's not going to be part of the solution.

hunkermunker Wed 11-Feb-09 21:14:51

Women often start businesses whilst juggling other commitments - so email contact with people to help would be very handy.

newgirl Wed 11-Feb-09 21:21:27

The recession has not affected us yet - i hope it doesn't and we stay lucky

I am appalled at the bonus culture and want it to end. Fine if a banker adds value to the business, then reward him/her for that. If they lose money, no bonus and possible sack. If we lose 'talent' to another country, good riddance.

I started my own business four years ago. The childcare cost is 60% of my take home, after tax salary - and I am well paid. Government funding kicks in the term after my child is three, but that is 2.5 years I have had to pay this much tax.

I would like FREE help on how to do a tax return.

I would like priority on my local school childcare because I have to work, rather than all the places going to people who don't need to work. Actually, Id like enough good places for all, but if you want to help working mums, that would be one solution.

thanks for asking!

skintregular Wed 11-Feb-09 21:23:11

HAs the credit crunch affected us?

yes.

It started with the petrol, with ridiculous public transport costs of over £5 a day for the 4 buses to get to work and back and a poor bus time table meaning there is only one bus in the morning that leaves before nursery drop off time and a bus in the evening that stops over a mile away from home after 5pm we have no choice but to drive the 13 miles to work. At 140 a litre diesel extended my personal debt on credit cards as I didn't have the cash to pay for petrol and I am now struggling to pay as my outgoings are greater than my income to pay credit cards etc (all on 0%). At 99.9 pence a litre it is still causing me difficulties.

Likewise gas and electric is crippling, we've gone from paying 50-60 per month for both to paying 50-60 per month each. We have had to drastically reduce the amount of time that we have the heating on as little as possible but really that has little effect on the bills. Food also is a major problematic expenditure even though I have switched supermarkets. Moved to use more discount or value brands and mealplan to cut my food bill.

The thing is we earn what should be considered a very decent joint income so if we are struggling and getting into further debt what is happening to families on low incomes? I think the government really needs to be concerned about this. We need to make families feel secure in their basic essentials like heating, housing and food. We need to make these affordable.

If we do this people will have more flexibility in their income and will feel more free to spend on things like essential clothes, the occasional meal out, a new toy for a birthday etc it's all those small common purchases that keep an economy ticking over not the in-frequent big money buys.

skintregular Wed 11-Feb-09 21:23:37

I also agree that we should make big banking bonuses illegal!

Cammelia Wed 11-Feb-09 21:25:17

I want tax relief for people who are paying for private education.

I have always disagreed with bonuses as they have made people reckless with obtaining targets.

MrsHappy Wed 11-Feb-09 21:25:28

Is the recession affecting you?  Yes, I've lost my job.Are you getting advice etc?  Well I went to the job centre (just because I want to be included in the official unemployment figures) and there was such a queue even I decided I couldn't wait.  It's a good thing I am not reliant on them to get a job (I am v qualified and they won't know what to do with me).  I reckon it is hard to get advice/help.
What do you want to see government doing?  Actually I have no idea.  Stopping blaming the banks for all of this would be a start.  I cannot imagine that Gordon Brown constantly talking down the city is doing any of us any favours.  Oh, and increase the tax-free redundancy payment limit to £50,000.  Some people will not find new work for over a year, so let's give them a chance to live without bankruptcy in the meantime.
What do I think about bonuses?  Well, I think that people should be paid based on performance.  Obviously the head honchos at HBOS/RBOS should not get any bonus (in share options or otherwise) but even those banks employ some people who have done a good job.  It worries me that a lot of people will not want to work for nationalised (or part nationalised) banks anyway.  If they start to pay badly to boot there could be a serious skills drain (leaving the taxpayers with a worthless shareholding in the banks).  Bonuses are neither the cause nor the problem IMO, even if they represent an easy target for the government.  Lack of adequate regulation and less prudence from our glorious leader than he promised us is more the issue.  Also, don't forget that city remunersation is taxable, and I would have thought that the Goverment could use that tax Revenue about now.

How can we help women who want to start their own businesses?  Hm, not sure about this, but I bet some cheaper childcare provision would not go amiss. 

pocketmonster Wed 11-Feb-09 21:25:36

I'm worried about the capacity the banks have to increase the interest rates they charge on credit card balances without notice or warning - leaving people in debt that they will never be able to clear. My credit card company (Lloyds TSB) have put my interest rate up from 15% to almost 27% with no warning or notice period. My credit rating is excellent, I have never defaulted and have made one late payment (when I changed banks and the Direct Debit got 'lost'). The result is that I pay approx £150 per month minimum payment and that clears just over £1 of balance - the rest is interest. I am fortunate in that I have savings and can pay the balance off if I choose to, others are in less fortunate positions and this kind of behaviour could create a situation that forces a family into bankruptcy - or worse. Banks have created alot (all?) of the problems that have caused this global economic crisis, that they can then ruin innocent people to claw back profit is beyond appalling. I know there has been some action to try to stop this behaviour but it is still happening and I think there needs to be a stronger message. The same applies to the lack of lending to viable businesses and banks ability to hike up interest rates on overdrafts for these same businesses.

As far as bank bonuses are concerned - it leaves me (almost!) speechless to think that these people are still going to be paying themselves top salaries and bonuses with apparently no regard to the lives of real people they have ruined. IMO its immoral - particularly those banks that have had to be bailed out with taxpayers money (not that I disagree with the governments approach here, as I do not think there was any other option).

Finally - thanks for asking!

Cammelia Wed 11-Feb-09 21:26:54

Oh and another thing, can you bring back married couples tax allowance please?

hunkermunker Wed 11-Feb-09 21:28:14

Set up a lucky dip system where instead of the bonuses being paid to the bankers, a lottery machine chooses 1,000 of the bank's customers to share the £9 million or whatever between.

pocketmonster Wed 11-Feb-09 21:30:26

Tax relief on the full cost of childcare for those of us that don't qualify for tax credits would also be a big help. 2 Children in full time childcare costs almost £1500 a month in the area I live in - and I'm not in the South East or in a large city. So that means unless you earn well over the national average you take home a big fat 0 if you have 2 or more children under school age.

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