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What could the Government do to support families where one parents wants to stay at home?

(84 Posts)
puddle Mon 13-Jun-05 11:39:04

This has been mentioned on the thread about 'wraparound' school hours. Many posters are saying it's a good idea as long as it is coupled with Government support for families that want to have one person working and the other at home.

What kind of support do people mean and how would it make a difference? What can the Government really do to make being at home a viable option for families?

flashingnose Mon 13-Jun-05 11:44:40

I haven't thought it through so don't all shout at me if it's a rubbish idea .

What about giving all parents a means tested/location tested voucher for each child from birth to school age. This would be roughly how much you would spend for one child's full time nursery care in your area. You can choose to spend this on a nursery, childminder, nanny, relation or keep it yourself providing you don't work outside the home. This would replace all the other Tax Credit-y type things that are around at the moment.

handlemecarefully Mon 13-Jun-05 12:00:38

Fine - but personally I am a bit fed up with means testing! Think some things should be universally available.

expatinscotland Mon 13-Jun-05 12:02:03

Dunno but Tax Credits are definitely not it. I - and it appears many, many others on this board - have had nothing but trouble with them.

SaintGeorge Mon 13-Jun-05 12:03:11

mini hijack - expat, did you see my posts to you re Tax Credits?

flashingnose Mon 13-Jun-05 12:04:37

I have to say, I don't have a problem with means testing if it is done in conjunction with your location as well. Interested to hear the reasons for the objections of others.

Caligula Mon 13-Jun-05 12:05:09

Universal child benefit at a much higher rate than now, recouped via a progressive income tax system.

handlemecarefully Mon 13-Jun-05 12:06:26


because although we may be fairly wealthy (don't qualify for tax credits etc) I'm sick of getting nothing back whatsoever

Chuffed Mon 13-Jun-05 12:07:14

flashingnose I think that is a good idea if it isn't means tested - HMC totally agree with you.
Just coz one partner might earn over the 'maximum' loosing another income is still going to hurt as you were obviously living paying rent/mortgage within your means with 2 incomes.

QueenFlounce Mon 13-Jun-05 12:08:22

Money Puddle. We would need money!

flashingnose Mon 13-Jun-05 12:09:37

Tell me more caligula...

Gobbledigook Mon 13-Jun-05 12:13:56

To be honest, I don't really expect any help. The way I look at it is that I make my choices (i.e. to have children) and then it's up to me (and dh) to work out how we will manage their care.

Either we both go out to work and we pay for childcare or one of us stays at home and we sacrifice things due to loss of income.

Help is great, but I don't expect anything from anyone.

puddle Mon 13-Jun-05 13:07:02

Caligula - what do you mean by a progressive tax system?

Prufrock Mon 13-Jun-05 13:55:29

Agree with higher universal child benefit Caligula, but probably not as progressive as you with the tax to recoup it - I'd actually prefer a far higher starting band and rate.
But I would also move to tax returns being done by family - so that every individual, regardless of age or working status, could actually make use of their 0% band. This would mean that a single person would start paying tax at a far lower level than a person with dependants - not just kids but also non working partners, dependant parents etc.

Caligula Mon 13-Jun-05 13:57:26

progressive as opposed to regressive - the people earning least pay least tax.

There have been a few improvements in the last few years (10% tax rate introduced) but still pretty regressive imo.

I agree family income should be taxed, not individual.

otto Mon 13-Jun-05 14:01:49

Increased benefits just wouldn't be enough to help many families. I would love to be able to work part time, but in order for us to buy a home in London we need my salary.

Caligula Mon 13-Jun-05 14:06:12

I think an awful lot of problems in this country can be traced back to high house prices. They are so unrelated to income that I always wonder who on earth is buying them all.

Prufrock Mon 13-Jun-05 14:17:51

Caligula - slightly off topic, but why are you so in favour of a progressive tax system? If you put the starting band high enough to ensure a fair standard of living, why should you then pay higher rates if you earn more - don't you think that just disincentivises people to earn more?

Caligula Mon 13-Jun-05 14:18:06

Actually that's a point - forty years ago, it was expected that a fifth to a quarter of one adult's income went on housing costs. Now, it's at least a third of two people's income as far as I can see. Housing affordability is a crucial factor in whether a couple decide whether it's financially viable for one person to stay at home or if that's not an option.

So doing something about the affordability of housing would be helpful. (I seem to remember them saying they would in 1997 - they promised a construction boom which would stabilise house-prices - did that ever happen? I didn't notice, but perhaps I wasn't paying attention.)

otto Mon 13-Jun-05 14:20:06

House prices are very much a part of the problem Caligula. At least dp and I have the benefit of some equity in our current property to enable us to buy something a bit bigger, but I look around at my younger colleagues and wonder what the hell they will do when they come to have kids. Many of them can just about afford to buy one-bed flats on two incomes.

Caligula Mon 13-Jun-05 14:23:23

Prufrock, nothing disincentivises people from earning more!

I'm always a bit sceptical of that argument - I think if someone can't be arsed to earn more because they might be taxed on it, then they probably earn enough for them. (I can't be arsed to go and earn more money, but would have to if I didn't feel I had enough, wouldn't I?)

I buy the people leaving the country argument more.

CountessDracula Mon 13-Jun-05 14:29:59

DH's parents had some friends who lived in Putney (as did they) in the early 1970s. He was a school teacher and she was a SAHM. They had a 5 bed victorian house in a beautiful road in Putney where they currently go for £800k +++

Can't imagine a schoolteacher being able to afford one of those now on one salary, can you?

Re this paying to stay home, I do think that up to aged 5, if one parent chooses to stay home then a fixed amount per week could be paid according to salary banding (you would have to give more to high earners as they wouldn't be able to afford to stay home!) It should be related directly to the average salary over the past say 5 years of the parent who is stopping work. As the higher earners would have paid more tax I don't think that this would be unfair, though I think there would have to be a cap to make it feasible, no idea what the cut off point should be though - £100k? £50k?

Finacially though I should think it is totally unworkable, where will all this money come from?

otto Mon 13-Jun-05 14:35:46

Agree CD that it is unworkable. It's not possible for the govt to pay enough money out to make enough of a difference to enough families

Heathcliffscathy Mon 13-Jun-05 14:40:45

but it is possible for them to spend billions (literally) to take us to war in iraq, and the point of that was????

it really annoys me when people in the name of realism say 'where is the money going to come from?' when in fact we're talking peanuts compared to what the government can conjure up from nowhere when Mr Bush whistles.

colditz Mon 13-Jun-05 14:41:52

CD, the grading according to income for sahps would leave the government open to accusations that rich people's children are worth more than poor people's children, and should therefore have more spent on them. Grading the sahp pay would not allow for the fact that all children are hard work, regardless of how much money you have.

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