We've been asked by ITN to comment on a report coming out tomorrow, that basically suggests offering a weekly payment of £50-60 for each child you have from birth until 3 - not means tested, payable to all - same amount per child no matter how many you have.
To pay for this - they'd need to scrap the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, the electronic vouchers and the one-off Sure Start Maternity Grant and providing instead a universal Parental Care Allowance (PCA) to parents caring with children of 0-3 years.
There was an article about it in today's Observer here and if anyone has the patience/enthusiasm, there's a full summary of the proposals below.
What do you think of it?
Would it make the difference between you going to work/staying at home?
Would scrapping the stuff they'd need to scrap make a difference to you?
Have to talk to them tomorrow Mon at 11ish - so be great to get your thoughts.
Here's the (longish) summary:
Proposals for reform
Little Britons proposes that funding support for childcare should follow the child and not be linked to childcare institutions or to parents work so that those parents who prefer informal care, such as relatives or childminders, or to look after their babies and toddlers themselves, are also supported.
The proposal requires scrapping the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, the electronic vouchers and the one-off Sure Start Maternity Grant and providing instead a universal Parental Care Allowance (PCA) to parents caring with children of 0-3 years.
· £50-60 per week paid direct to all parents with children of 0-3. This is in line with parental care allowances in other European countries at around 15-20 per cent of GDP per capita and is equivalent to around 40 per cent of average income from the average part-time job.
· Payable from birth or after maternity pay has ceased until the child starts to use early years services in the first term after the third birthday. Those receiving a maternity package are already financially supported and the PCA should not commence until that support ceases, either through returning to work or electing to stay at home to look after the child. All 3 year olds are eligible for Early Years Entitlement which, with a target of 20 hours per week, provides childcare as well as educational development.
· Not tapered, meaning that the same amount is paid to each child no matter how many children are in the family. Tapering adds complexity.
· Not taxed. Taxing the PCA might act as a deterrent to work for low income families.
· Administered through Child Benefit. At £55, this payment, in addition to child benefit, would mean a weekly, universal, non-taxed cash payment for children under 3 of £73.80.
Dr Catherine Hakim again: The proposal would be simple to administer, get into the right hands, allow parents to choose from a variety of childcare options (including staying at home), and provide carers with supplemental income if they give up work. Sure Start would still have a role, providing information and support for parenting, especially for the neediest parents.
How to pay for it
Assuming 100 per cent take-up of the new PCA, this is a £5.4 billion proposal if it is untaxed (£4.1 billion if it is taxed). This is significantly more than is currently paid out through the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, the electronic vouchers and Sure Start Maternity Grant. The authors of the report believe these schemes, combined with savings on administration costs, more use of private and voluntary day nurseries, tapering away the family element of the Child Tax Credit and reassessing Child Benefit for 16-18 year-olds, would meet the vast bulk of the costs of the universal scheme they propose. However, if government increased spending on children to 1.5 per cent of GDP, in line with Scandinavian countries, it could easily cover the cost of this policy recommendation.
Natalie Evans summarized the reports analysis and recommendations: The present arrangements for childcare in the UK are not flexible enough to meet the needs of todays varied family structures and working hours. Rather than funding institutions, money should follow children. British parents, like those in France and Scandinavia, need more childcare choice. A simple, across-the-board childcare payment through the Child Benefit system is the way forward. It allows women who want to work to do so, and gives women the option to stay at home if that is what they believe is in their childs best interests at the start of their life.
Your views on parents
carriemumsnet · 20/04/2008 21:36
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