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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

Gordon Brown on Mumsnet this Friday (16th October) lunchtime between 1-2 pm

(1058 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 15-Oct-09 13:21:13

We're delighted to announce that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will be logging on to Mumsnet for a live webchat on Friday (tomorrow) lunchtime from 1 to 2. The PM is ready to answer Mumsnetters' questions on a wide-range of policy issues from the economy to education and from childcare to climate change.

As you know we're not great ones for rule books here at MNHQ, but we'd like this to be as useful and enlightening an event as it can be, for all involved. We aren't going to pre-moderate or pre-select questions - the format will be as per usual - but given the likely popularity of this webchat, the sheer number of you all and our past experience of trying to fit everything in, we've come up with a few ground rules which we'd be very grateful if you'd follow.

Guidelines for MN webchat with PM

1. To allow as many folks as possible to be involved, please restrict your questions to one per member plus a follow up question if appropriate, i.e. once you've had a response. (NB don't even think about name changing to ask another, we'll be watching!).

2. Please keep your question reasonably brief (we'll not doing a word count but it will increase your chance of getting an answer, we suspect, if you don't bang on for paragraphs)

3. It's highly unlikely he'll be able to answer everyone's question but we'll make every effort to bring common themes to his attention. Please don't be too disappointed if your specific question doesn't get answered and do try not to keep posting "What about me?". He can't answer them all and he is the PM after all - so has a quite few time constraints.

4. Obviously you're free to voice your opinion but do be civil/polite - the PM is our guest on Mumsnet so, whatever your politics, please afford him the same cordiality you would if he stopped by your own house.

Many thanks - feel free to put your question up in advance if you can't make the live chat on Friday lunchtime.

stoppinattwo Fri 16-Oct-09 12:16:01

My question is a nice and easy one....

Is Mrs Brown a mnnetter <<narrows eyes>> ind if so do you snoop to see what she writes about grin

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 16-Oct-09 12:17:16

Miscarriage, sadly, is a common occurrence and lots of Mumsnetters have suffered poor experiences of the NHS during this sad time. Because of that and drawing on Mums' experiences we've come up with a code of practice with suggestions of some fairly simple ways of improving the treatment of parents who miscarry - we'd be super grateful if you'd take a look at it and give it some consideration.

Jennyj2 Fri 16-Oct-09 12:18:01

I like Gordon Brown and think Labour are doing a great job for our children.
However, as a full time mother i have felt a pressure to 'get back to work'and put my child into day care since he was born. I think the help available to working mothers is really good and if mothers want to go to work they should be able to but does it need to be encouraged so much that full time parents are made to feel lazy and constantly have child care leaflets shoved in our faces?. I am a single parent, my sons father has completely abandoned him and for this reason i feel my son needs me full time i hope to stay off work and look after him full time until he goes to school.

Anngeree Fri 16-Oct-09 12:19:04

Hi Mr Brown

Do you really think all these breakfast clubs & after school clubs are the best way for children to be looked after while their parents are working?

My concern is that children as young as 4 are already away from home 6hrs + a day then if they go to these clubs they don't get a chance to wind down in a relaxing environment.

My worry is that if these children are being over stimulated now that in 10-15yrs time we'll have lots of young adults who are susceptible to stress related ailments just simply because they don't know ho to unwind.

I think the gov't really needs to be offering incentives to childminders/ grandparents so children can be cared for in the home environment.

mistressnicola Fri 16-Oct-09 12:25:13

Are the salaries of your spin doctors Kirsty McNeill, Nicola Burdett, John Woodcock (and all the others) paid for by the Labour party, or by us taxpayers?

Fruitbeard Fri 16-Oct-09 12:28:30

I've only got to page 9 and am running out of time so apologies if this has already been asked:

Mr Brown,

What are your thoughts on the Gary McKinnon case? I find it absolutely outrageous that we are rolling over to the USA and allowing this man's extradition.

I find it horrifying that we agreed to this treaty in the first place, let alone that there is no reciprocal agreement.

Do you not find it appalling that a UK citizen can be extradited to the USA and tried there for such a non-crime or (as in the case of the NatWest 3) for actions which were not criminal in the UK but are considered so in the US? Are there any plans to rescind this agreement?

(and well done on the handling of the financial crisis, I wouldn't have a job if it weren't for your actions)

paranoid2 Fri 16-Oct-09 12:28:32

Dear Mr Brown

I would like to know your opinion on the current situation where premature children are discriminated against and are forced to start school earlier that children born at term, in some cases children are in theory still 3 years of age. Ed Balls failed to address this question at all when he came to Mumsnet.I am aware that children can defer entry until the following year but that is even more damaging for the child as in most cases they will be forced to join the class that they would have joined if they had started a year earlier.
When is the government going to give parents of children who are born prematurely the option of deciding whats in the best interest of their children, some of whom will have encountered many hurdles before they even start school.

Thank you for taking the time to come on Mumsnet today

nappyzonecantrunfortoffee Fri 16-Oct-09 12:30:05

How do we know its really you and not one of your little helpers pretending to be?

IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Fri 16-Oct-09 12:37:04

I would like to know if plans to scrap childcare vouchers are really going ahead, and why?

More incentives need to be offered to get women back to work, not less.

Thank you.

theroseofwait Fri 16-Oct-09 12:41:03

Mr Brown,

Another teacher here who had to go back to work when my son was only 20 weeks old to avoid the house being repossessed. Why is the maternity pay for working, married women so pitifully low when for all our working lives we have been supporting what feels like a huge chunk of the female population in their single, often non-working, parenthoods?

Is a few months off on full pay when I've been paying 40% tax for years too much to ask?

Also why can I not claim tax credits when I'm paying a fortune in tax? I have to pay childcare too, as well as the huge student loan and massive mortgage that your government has saddled me with, oh and now, I suppose I ought to start saving for my childrens' education as they'll get no EMA or help either. All thanks to me getting off my posterior, putting myself through uni and grafting. . . How is this fair?

treedelivery Fri 16-Oct-09 12:44:13

Hello Mr Brown

When my DH was made redundant in the credit crisis of Novemeber - the jobcentre advisor told us 'he was unfortunate to have worked previously [for all his working life] he will get very little support for his family or himself'

We nearly lost our] [totally affordable and within our budget house Mr Brown, and recieved jobseekers allowance and £8 council tax rebate per month. I sign forms day in and out for other 'types' of benefit claiments to secure surestart, fruit and veg vouchers, hospital travel expenses....the list goes on.

WOuld you commnet on the view that this county is unfair to some, whilst providing extensive support for others. There seems to be an overprotective nanny state on one face, and a blank stare of cold capitalism on the other.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 16-Oct-09 12:44:53

We're delighted to say that the Prime Minister is in the Towers so give us a minute to get settled in, and we'll be off.

treedelivery Fri 16-Oct-09 12:45:21

Typo's!! To the PM!!


caramelwaffle Fri 16-Oct-09 12:46:00

I would most like to echo what
havewonderedforyears has said:

By havewonderedforyears Fri 16-Oct-09 10:39:47 Add a message | Report post | Contact poster
Why does housing benefit cover rent in full, year upon year upon year, even though some tenants have no intention of ever working full time, secure in the knowledge that their rent will be paid effectively forever, when people who have worked and secured themselves a mortgage get precious little help when they find themselves out of work, and have to wait a considerable amount of time for the little amount of help they do get? There is no sanctions or time limits that people in rented accomodation can claim for, and I am not the only one with this question. My local council cannot understand it either.
Some people with mortgages are actually worse off financially than people on benefits. How are you going to even up the balance?

treedelivery Fri 16-Oct-09 12:46:21

OOO is he actually in your building then? Or is he linked in from his sofa Very Important Ofice?

This is very exciting!

GordonBrown Fri 16-Oct-09 12:46:38

Hi all

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. This is my first webchat, so bear with me if I'm not as fast as you'd like! I'm really pleased to be making my webchat debut with mumsnet as there are loads of things the Government is doing for parents that I’m really passionate about; big choices we've made that have changed lives for millions of parents, things like flexible working, maternity and paternity leave and Sure Start to name a few. Looking at what’s already been posted, I’m sure we’ll also get to discuss lots of non-parent related issues too. Some of the big issues I'm working on every day include beating cancer in this generation and protecting our planet for the next generation, so I'm really keen to have your views on those too.

I’ll get through as many of your topics as possible and will come back on the main issues if we run out of time.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

natfrank Fri 16-Oct-09 12:46:54

Dear Prime Minister

As a Childminder and a Parent I would like to know why the plug was pulled on the Childcarelink website (A userfriendly directory of all childminders, pre schools etc in each borough across the country) before the Directgov website version of this had been set up correctly.

The Directgov version of the directory is still not working correctly and when I was able to locate my details after scrolling through over 3600 childcare providers details it did not say that I was a childminder and that I had NO vacancies which is not true - in fact I am desperate to fill my are several other childminders I know....and therefore having a huge impact on our businesses!

Parents use the web all the time to search for childcare and are going to be put off by this confusing inaccurate site.


PLEASE PLEASE also look at the Mumsnet Code of Practice regarding miscarriage. This is an issue close to my heart having suffered a late miscarriage (21 weeks) this year and received appalling treatment from the midwives at my local hospital and I had to chase them for 2 weeks for any aftercare or follow up. (I complained and my complaint has been dealt with accordingly) I did however receive outstanding care from St George's Hospital where I was transferred to for the labour as my health had deteriorated (I have written to praise and thank the staff for the way in which they cared for me and my husband).

I look forward to reading your comments.

Many thanks

brimfull Fri 16-Oct-09 12:47:43

ooh i just have to post hello
and say I posted to the PM!!

GentleOtter Fri 16-Oct-09 12:48:28

Dear Mr Brown

All the other mumsnetters have asked brilliant questions.
May I ask what your favourite biscuits are?
We need to know.

GordonBrown Fri 16-Oct-09 12:49:05

Paolosgirl, Fabhead,loop9, Domesticlattern and many others,

I can see that Childcare Vouchers are a big concern to many of you, so let me take this opportunity to clear a few things up.

Firstly, no one who is currently using the scheme will be affected in the next 5 years, so please don’t worry about any sudden changes. We are phasing in the changes so that families who currently benefit don't lose out in the next Parliament.

Second, low and middle-income working parents will be able to benefit from childcare support through tax credits that are worth on average £68 per week for 470,000 families - much more generous than tax relief on vouchers.

And third, we are not actually abolishing the childcare vouchers. What will be happening is the Treasury will be phasing out the tax and national insurance relief employees receive for childcare vouchers, but companies will still be able to offer childcare vouchers to the people they employ and in fact, we expect many of them will continue to provide support for childcare.

We are making these changes because we feel that the tax relief is currently badly targeted. Around a third of the benefit for ESC goes to the 6% of parents who pay tax at the higher rate

But more importantly, we want to use the money to extend free nursery places to many thousands more 2 year olds. These nursery places are really popular with parents and they give children the very best start in life - helping to achieve a fairer society in which everyone can thrive.

brimfull Fri 16-Oct-09 12:49:09

and are you a tea or coffee person?

Bumperlicioso Fri 16-Oct-09 12:49:54

<Settles in comfy chair in anticipation>

Guttersnipe Fri 16-Oct-09 12:50:04

The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland really greets the electorate with the words "Hi all"?

Dear me, how disappointing.

ErikaMaye Fri 16-Oct-09 12:50:56

<waddles on it and sits down to read>

bitofadramaqueen Fri 16-Oct-09 12:50:57

Apologies if this has already been covered but the reasonably short question I'd like to ask is:

Can the Government really only afford to extend the provision of free childcare to hard working lower income families by removing the tax relief on childcare vouchers which helps many hard working middle income families?

I can't log on for the discussion but my follow up points (depending on what/if any response by the PM) would be:

I agree that in these difficult times, the Government only has limited resources and want to target these at people who need the most help but the tax savings for two parents can come to around £150 per month - this makes a big difference to families who only just earn too much to qualify for working tax credits and in many cases, it's the only way that mothers of young children can afford to go back to work.

I also know that those who currently benefit from tax relief on childcare vouchers won't be affected, but I care about future parents too smile.

Apparently, 1/3 of people who take advantage of salary sacrifice childcare vouchers are in the higher tax bracket, but that suggests that 2/3's aren't.

I also know that too many parents don't actually have access to salary sacrifice voucher schemes, but I'd like to see the Government take action to ensure that more people can access this scheme. Perhaps it could be means tested though so middle income families still get it but high income families dont.

If it's about taking tax breaks/benefits away from higher incomes and giving the resources to those that need it most - why take away £150 a month from families just above the working families tax credit limit, while high income households (for arguments sake, lets say parents with a combined income of in excess of £100K) get 40% tax relief on pension contributions and get child benefit?

I do actually really hope Labour get back in though and appreciate the extended paid maternity leave and child benefit increases already introduced.

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