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Will the cuts change the role of women?

Mark Easton | 20:10 UK time, Wednesday, 20 October 2010

As my train was pulling into Birmingham New Street this morning, a woman in the carriage was on her mobile phone. She was offering sympathy to a friend who had just been told she had lost her job. I could only hear half the conversation, but there was talk of £100,000 worth of cuts to a budget and it was clear that the person on the other end of the line was profoundly upset and angry.

There will be many more conversations like that over the next few years and most of them will involve women.

The expansion of the public sector over the last few decades transformed work opportunities for millions of women. The new jobs, many in the caring professions, were often advertised as family-friendly, a good fit for those attempting to juggle children and a career.

For single mums it often made full-time work possible. For many more households, it provided a valuable second income. Today, twice as many women as men work in the public sector and 40% of all female workers are employed by the state.

Of the half a million public sector job cuts, more than 300,000 are likely to be women. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber recently told me that the "disproportionate effect" will be unfair and said he has demanded the government conduct an equality impact assessment. So far, he says, he has had no reply.

Such a test, it might be argued, is too narrow. Men suffered more during the recession. Women may take a slightly bigger hit in the cuts. Swings and roundabouts.

But the counter-argument is that, while private sector jobs should return as the economy recovers, the plan is for the public sector to shrink permanently. What's more, there may be a double whammy for female workers. If working mums lose their jobs they will not need so much childcare - another industry very largely occupied by women.

I recently put this point to Jill Kirby, director of the influential Conservative think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies. "It may be better news for women not to spend money on childcare any more and to look after their own children and fit jobs into the child's day," she told me, pointing out that "women going out to do jobs to pay for childcare generates a type of work which then requires subsidy from the state".

"Are you saying women should be looking after their children at home?" I asked.
"For women who would like to be under less pressure to work, who would rather be at home, yes," she replied.
 

For some Conservatives, it would seem, the effect of the cuts on female workers is a useful nudge to changing the role of women in society. It is not a prospect, however, that enjoys support at the TUC.

"If there's a suggestion of reverting back to an early model of stay-at-home mums, I don't think that would be seen as socially progressive at all" says Mr Barber.

It is not just the direct effect of public sector job losses that may change the role of women. Some suspect that the foot-soldiers in David Cameron's "Big Society" will be predominantly female.

Geoff Mulgan, former strategy advisor to Tony Blair and now head of think tank the Young Foundation, says women will have to take responsibility as the state withdraws from childcare and elder-care.

"There's an assumption by politicians that women will be willing to bear this burden.  But many will be pretty resentful that they have to go back into the home with the disappearance of large number of jobs in the public sector, all to pay for the mistakes of a rather well-paid group of men in London."

So, one of the consequences of the shrinking state outlined today may be that women stay at home rearing children and building the "Big Society" instead of going out to work. Whether that is a good thing, a bad thing or a "fair" thing will be hotly debated.

Comments

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  • 1. At 8:43pm on 20 Oct 2010, marysuzette wrote:

    I share the concern that many women will suffer from cuts to public sector jobs. I'm sure there are many who would love to play a part in building the 'Big Society' but are constrained in giving their time voluntarily by the need to earn a living!

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  • 2. At 9:11pm on 20 Oct 2010, Arrrgh wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 9:38pm on 20 Oct 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Hmm interesting thoughts Mark, but i think we will just have to see how this levels out country wide as I'm sure some local authorities have vastly different gender roles throughout the departments they operate, depending on how industrialized the area is. Does anyone compile such data? Also at what point could sexism be applied to the cull of workers in the situation you talk about?
    Equally skilled women have the same rights to work as the equally skilled male counterpart, but who gets the higher wage on average? man or woman?
    Could just as easily be a cull of male workers especially in office environments where women naturally have the ability to multitask far better than men.

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  • 4. At 9:40pm on 20 Oct 2010, watriler wrote:

    Jill Kirby's comments are very revealing. Not far removed from "a women's place is in the home". Many women want to work and have children. They want to have not only the financial rewards but all the other benefits of working whether they are professionally qualified or not. They do not want their choice destroyed because of reactionary Tory policies and for some families two incomes are essential for survival. Throwing a large number of people -predominantly female out of work is a conscious act of political choice and it cannot be excused by presenting it as having a positive outcome. It is the fallout of a top down process and nothing to do with the illusion of the "Big Society" pedalled by the ideologues.

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  • 5. At 9:41pm on 20 Oct 2010, Sooz wrote:

    "Arrggh" what do the immigrant workforce have to do with this article? This government obviously misogynistic, do you not have a constructive comment on that instead of being blatently xenophobic?

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  • 6. At 9:46pm on 20 Oct 2010, This Comment Was Removed By The Moderators wrote:

    "Now can all the people from around the world who have live off this great country fro the last 10 years please leave"

    What a competely confused comment. Do you mean all the ex-coal miners, ex-steelworkers, ex-shipbuilders and their families who have been living on benefits for the last 20 years? Should they all now leave the country there were born and raised in? Or do you mean all the foreign students whose fees are keeping our universities alive - would you like them to leave? Or the Eastern European workers who live packed ten in a house and clean our windows, fix our toilets, pick our vegetables, harvest our wheat. Should we send them home? No need to actually, because there is net emigration back to Eastern Europe anyway as more are leaving than arriving.

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  • 7. At 10:35pm on 20 Oct 2010, Arrrgh wrote:

    Richie Holmes now when did ....."the ex-coal miners, ex-steelworkers, ex-shipbuilders and their families who have been living on benefits for the last 20 years?" move to this country. They've moved out of heavy industry areas they are now working in the south. I said "Now can all the people from around the world who have lived off this great country for the last 10 years please leave".

    Sooz.....If they are on benefits please leave. Remember alot of them are women who take take take and give birth to child who again take take take fom our schools, hospitals and housing. They even get free driving lessons from the local authority. Can we afford to use our taxes to subsidise the breakdown of society just to be all right-on and PC?

    Just to repeat Chancellor Merkel stated at the weekend multiculturalism had "utterly failed". Subsidised it for the last 20 years and look where we are? A nation divided in every possible pretending to be all one nation.

    Another thing why ring fence aid to India but remove it from China and Russia? No common sense.

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  • 8. At 10:46pm on 20 Oct 2010, Opaque wrote:

    I would say this comes under 'you can't have everything'.
    Life isn't fair. If you want a family (or quite often you want more than one kid), you make that decision on jobs, housing, career.

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  • 9. At 11:11pm on 20 Oct 2010, ssw wrote:

    Jill Kirby- "It may be better news for women not to spend money on childcare any more and to look after their own children..."
    Women who are able to return to work (even part time) can build skills, improve their employability and their value to an employer, thus enabling them to move up the scale and potentially earn more. Even if they have to pay for childcare at first, this is the real long term benefit for them to take this step.
    An aspect of the modern workplace is the demand for skills and qualifications. Returning to work part-time is an opportunity for many (such as women who have children) to aquire and improve skills and perhaps qualifications which in turn may benefit employers, for example, by enabling them to compete more effectively. This is something therefore for the state to encourage.
    If they are denied this opportunity, then this is discriminatory and may lead to further deterioration in the skills shortage that business leaders complain of (see[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]).
    I am not sure what is "Big" about a society with this as its agenda.

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  • 10. At 04:08am on 21 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    Writing as a woman,its about time women realised that they don't have any more right to a job than men. They have no more right to build skills or experience or have part-time opportunities.

    If you want equality, that means equality of opportunity to be employed or made redundant. It's quite simple.

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  • 11. At 04:19am on 21 Oct 2010, histJunkie wrote:

    There are few years when children are so small that they need an entire day of mother's care. They are soon in school. As soon as they are past their first couple of years in school fathers should be willing to sacrifice job time; this reactionary government should not assume it has to be the women. As all mothers know, children grow up into teenagers very quickly. Why should women then face decades of unemployment?

    With taxes being raised to 20% of all purchases, why should families have one partner doing voluntary work for zero income to make Cameron's Big Society succeed? I dare say many young women who have completed a degree followed by post graduate qualifications will determinedly push onwards with a career and forgo children. Perhaps the answer is a sharp drop in births if fewer workers are needed in future.

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  • 12. At 05:23am on 21 Oct 2010, arny wrote:

    I think of the example of a certain male employee in my clients small company who is paid 14,000 pound per annum for a moderately skilled 40 hour a week job in electronics. Skill, responsibility and ability wise it's probably the same as a nurse or midwife in the public sector, but the nurse or midwife earns about double. I do not recognise this picture that women are somehow paid less than men, In my experience it's the other way around as all the male friendly technical or manufacturing jobs have gone to China.

    I'm not sure the statistics mean anything, how can you compare like for like?

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  • 13. At 05:36am on 21 Oct 2010, arny wrote:

    Re my last post, number 12: Sorry I forgot explain how my comment related to the blog about female public sector job cuts - basically I was thinking along the lines they'd be room for pay cuts instead of job cuts, leaving public sector women friendly jobs still being paid more than a lot of the equivalent male jobs in the private sector.

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  • 14. At 05:56am on 21 Oct 2010, abserloooootly wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 15. At 06:08am on 21 Oct 2010, abserloooootly wrote:

    big society,,,,,,,rubbish,,,,it was the tories who destroyed unity in the 80s. unity became a dirty words.union bashing was all the rage.divide and rule was the tory policy.keep em down.mix em up.single mothers/absent fathers/imagration/them and us/have and have nots anything to divide the nation was dreamd up by the tories.it was pay back time because in 1974 the unions of this country brought down a goverment (Ted Heath) which could never ever be allowed to happen again, it was for that reason and at that time that divide and rule was invented so now I laf out loud when I hear BIG society...divide and rule has destroyed a lot of lives one way or another,,,,and lets not forget it was a tory invention so dont preach to us about unity.

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  • 16. At 06:37am on 21 Oct 2010, fileypainter wrote:

    That this situation will affect many women, either as career driven ones or as second earners, is to be regretted; I'm not in favour of sending home all the folk who have come to work here over the years either, as someone else here is saying. But with hardship, there is always opportunity and for many women, they will be able to maybe take a completely different route to maintain their earning capacity. If it is true they multi-task better than men, and they are more flexible anyway, we can expect to see them come through and generate new opportunities we and they never saw coming.

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  • 17. At 06:43am on 21 Oct 2010, Adam wrote:

    Everyone who is arguing that the job cuts are unfair against women is taking a sexist view point. The fact that more women will lose their job then men is true BUT the government are cutting public service jobs irrelevant of sex. More women work in the public sector than men so more women will lose their jobs, its simple maths not a conspiracy against women. People need to wise up and stop saying its sexist/racist etc when things don’t go their way, Life is unfair!

    As for people saying men should be stay at home parent so women can go out to work is just as sexist as saying it should be women that stay at home and look after the kids. This is the real world, if one person has to give up work for children, it should be the one who earns less regardless of sex. Lets not forget that having children is a choice not a right!

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  • 18. At 06:54am on 21 Oct 2010, HeartOfOak58 wrote:

    "Arrggh": Now can all the people from around the world who have live off this great country fro the last 10 years please leave.

    If every immigrant left the country, we would still have multiculturalism, as there are millions of British citizens who have lived here all their lives who are members of ethnic minorities. Do you want to deport them as well?

    And have you ever been in an NHS hospital in London? These hospitals would stop working within 24 hours if it was only Brits who worked there. Perhaps you would like to replace all the highly trained foreign doctors and nurses by people from the dole queue. Nice idea, "So Mrs Jones, would you like your heart surgery to be done by an experienced surgeon from Russia, or an unemployed dustman from Barking?".

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  • 19. At 07:58am on 21 Oct 2010, pennyh wrote:

    Just as an observation there are an awful lot of women employed in supermarkets and domestic or caring work, who haven't made the choice to sit behind desks waving pieces of A4 around as "abserloooootly" puts it. They are the ones who are holding the economy of the family together and have been for decades.
    Don't deride the importance of their role as they are probably performing the age-old juggling act of child minder,carer,"chief cook and bottle washer", and a wage...not a lot in these particular roles but still not to be ignored.
    As supermarkets in particular seem to be thriving and increasing their work force the 'blue collar' lady will find that employment here, once looked down on, will become more appealing.
    What was it someone said," if you pay peanuts, you only get monkeys" something that many believe when they shop in these establishments, how wrong were they then, and how wrong will they be in the future

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  • 20. At 08:13am on 21 Oct 2010, polly_gone wrote:

    I believe we should be far beyond gender issues. Feminism may have started the war but it didn't do us too many favours. It certainly didn't win the battle.

    The Government is attacking the working classes for a sin committed by the ruling classes. Men and women will lose jobs because they are in the wrong places, gender irrelevant. The social engineering which continues even now, created a wealth of 'part time' work out of cunning, avoidance of costs, and downright exploitation. In the public sector, for a while, there was token gender discrimination (positive maybe but still discrimination) and women benefited, short term. Now a vicious regime who does not need to cut a single job is in payback mode.

    So Mr Easton please can we have less of a gender battle and more of an attack on the dogma that drives a mean, self interested and crime infested Tory party. It should be right up your street, if you know what I mean. ;-)

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  • 21. At 08:27am on 21 Oct 2010, baydog wrote:

    Time for reflection.
    We have had ten years of fantasy island here in the Uk. Whatever people wanted it was usually available because of the policies of Gordon Blair.
    If it wasn`t available by taking money out inflated property prices there was usually some scheme under the nanny state that would facilitate a persons wishes.
    Reality is dawning - it is quite right that people should not have children if they cannot afford them.
    As for child benefit has it not served it purpose - introduced after the second world war to help build up the population again. Now the world (and UK) are overpopulated the incentives should be gradually withdrawn.

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  • 22. At 08:29am on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    For many couples, there is no choice if they want to have a family: two incomes are vital.

    Two incomes are vital because of the cost of housing – average house prices of £230,562 as of earlier this month (see here). On the basis that a sensible mortgage is no more than three times household income, that average house price requires an annual income of just under £77K.

    In 2009, the average salary in the UK was £25,816 (see here).

    The gap between income and the cost of housing has risen dramatically in the last decade (see here).

    Not that there's any connection between the insanity of the cost of housing in the UK and the financial crisis, of course ...

    Mr Easton hints at this, but the point is, that on the basis of housing costs alone, most families need two incomes to survive. It is not a matter of the luxury of one parent being able to choose to stay at home. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 23. At 08:36am on 21 Oct 2010, Rosie wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 08:37am on 21 Oct 2010, Barbara wrote:

    “why should families have one partner doing voluntary work for zero income to make Cameron's Big Society succeed?”

    I do not understand this argument. As a stay-at-home parent, and part of a single-income family, why should the state fund our choice to have children? They are our responsibility. Why should we be paid by the tax payer to look after our own children? I am all for equality and equal opportunities which means it shouldn’t make any difference which partner stays at home or if a couple shares the responsibility, but if a couple want children then they need to take responsibility for them.

    In my view, at the moment the tax and benefits system is grossly in favour of double income families, which puts huge pressure on parents to leave their children in others’ care when they would prefer to be living up to their responsibilities and bringing them up themselves. How is that fair? Maybe if there were more single income families, there would be more jobs to go round for families with currently no incomes at all.

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  • 25. At 08:43am on 21 Oct 2010, stipe1960 wrote:

    A lot of what is above is assuming the women in question are doing rather low skill/pay roles which are one step away from motherly duties etc. (to take the pulse of the message tone and not my take) and the money lost if they can't work is a minor point to a family. What about those women who are highly qualified and the income is not pin money but equal to the man's or the only income? I am a university lecturer (can't have children so can't go back into the home to look after kids and forget my many years of study and social advancement) and my friends from college are solicitors, scientists, doctors, directors of firms. Many of them have children. We women are a diverse bunch, almost like we are human beings.

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  • 26. At 08:44am on 21 Oct 2010, Silvia wrote:

    Does anyone know if Jill Kirby has children? If she has, can we assume that Mr Kirby is at home looking after them while she is carrying out her very important duties in said think(?)tank? Or is it a case, as everything is with this government, of 'do as we say, not as we do, because the rich are different and you're the proles'? So much for 'all of us being in this together' 'the Big Society' and all the rest of the tired old-fashioned right-wing ideological claptrap we're being treated to these days. For those who believe that 'women have to make the choice to have children' based on income, job and housing, isn't that exactly what's happened? Britain is only just managing to replace its ageing population by relying on the immigrant birthrate - obviously there's a lot of women out there who've made precisely this calculation, and decided that they have no desire to devote their lives to looking after the next generation or the elderly, with no income, no holidays and no future, when they could be working and earning money (and maybe swanning about telling other people how they should organise their lives). The only problem with much of the immigrant population, as various sectors of the economy have pointed out, is that there are many jobs for which they would require expensive investment and training, including language. And if we're going to rely on the immigrant population, I'm afraid those who want them all to 'go home' are going to be very disappointed.

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  • 27. At 08:50am on 21 Oct 2010, Theo Jones wrote:

    These public sector "jobs" have not been real jobs anyway - they only exist because the state has been ramming it's nose in where it's not wanted or needed, so that we have armies of public sector "employees" sifting through our bins, watching us on CCTV, following us around to make sure our kids live on the right street to get into school...

    And every one of those "jobs" requires people working a real job, paying way too much tax, to pay for it.

    In my industry there are plenty of women working in highly skilled technical roles, every part the equal of the men they work beside. We need lots more of them, not patronising non-jobs wasting time on taxpayer's money.

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  • 28. At 08:51am on 21 Oct 2010, U14656556 wrote:

    It seems only inevitable that when the public and third sectors have, for years, systematically favoured the employmnet of women over men, they are bound to suffer more when those sectors shrink. If men had been offered equal opportunities for employment in the caring professions the equalities impact assessment now being clamored for would be unnecessary. There was, for example, no such call made for an EIA at the introduction of CRB checks. A sector dominated by women and their feminist politics will now have to learn that you reap what you sow.

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  • 29. At 09:02am on 21 Oct 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    Sorry, don't buy into this constant nonsense that something is more important because people can find some convoluted argument that it affects some politically special group.

    500,000 lose their job, 300,00 are women - 50,000 more than if it was 50:50 split - and the big issue is supposed to be gender? I think not.

    My sympathy goes out to anyone who's life is being ruined - men, women, poor, middle class, public sector, private sector - anyone.

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  • 30. At 09:08am on 21 Oct 2010, AnotherEngineer wrote:

    There's an assumption by politicians that women will be willing to bear this burden. But many will be pretty resentful that they have to go back into the home with the disappearance of large number of jobs in the public sector, all to pay for the mistakes of a rather well-paid group of men in London."
    I didn't think that Gordon Brown and his cabinet were particularly well-paid, well I suppose if you take their performasnce into account...

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  • 31. At 09:15am on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 32. At 09:18am on 21 Oct 2010, Tez wrote:

    Well, we can't say that Women have not been amply looked after in recent years - especially by the likes of Ms Harman and her Party. Perhaps it's now time to realise that there is another sex - apart from Females - that are resident in this Country.

    Personally, I hope Women with Children will be able to 'rear' their Children properly at home - rather than go to work. Hopefully, now that Government want to make it financially-preferable for people to work, rather than sit on the Dole - more Men will find a job - and 'keep' their wives and Children properly. I hope Industry will recognise the need for a DECENT wage that helps this situation too.

    Perhaps we'll all end up with a PROPER Society - with luck.

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  • 33. At 09:19am on 21 Oct 2010, healthytoes wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 34. At 09:29am on 21 Oct 2010, Rosie wrote:

    I did not say that there was no crime ot antisocial behaviour in the past,but it was not the problem it is today.

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  • 35. At 09:30am on 21 Oct 2010, mrsjaffa66 wrote:

    I am a single divorced Mum who works full time in the public sector. I now don't know if I have a job from November 8th, my childcare and working tax credits is being cut and thank god I am an existing tenant in social housing which was a result of being homeless for six months. The government perhaps needs to ensure when families split up both parents share the financial expense of bringing up children. The CSA is a joke and totally unreliable, I am not on any housing benefit but if my rent was put up to market rates then I would have to claim housing benefit, by doing this the government merely put the welfare housing benefit bill up by a ridiculous amount therefore just shifting the monies it will be interesting to see how much the housing benefit bill goes up. Having been in the private rented market myself and having to move four times in two years due to no security of tenure and houses I rented being sold my children have been pushed from pillar to post. I would love to buy a house but the gap between my salary and getting a mortgage just simply makes it unaffordable.

    WHERE IS THE INCENTIVE TO KEEP WORKING HE KEEPS TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT, UNDER THE NEW SYSTEM IF I DID MANAGE TO GET A BETTER JOB AND EARN MORE MONEY THEY WOULD REVIEW MY HOUSING AND SHOVE ME BACK INTO THE PRIVATE SECTOR HAVING TO MOVE EVERY SIX MONTHS NO WAY!!

    I work to set a good example to my children and beleive in earning my living not relying on the welfare state but with the current budget, I may lose my job in the public sector and cutting childcare help and working tax credit also may make it unaffordable come on Mr Chancellor stop being such a hypocrite do you really hate us women and single parents who work that much, how would you like to move every six months and have no home.

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  • 36. At 09:36am on 21 Oct 2010, healthytoes wrote:


    My #33 referred for further consideration?

    Because I ask for the author's definition of his "role for women"? Blimey.

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  • 37. At 09:42am on 21 Oct 2010, juliet50 wrote:

    So far the cuts have disproportionately affected the middle class, the poor, the rich and now women. Is there any group which has not been affected? George, I think your work is done - we really are all in this together.

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  • 38. At 09:50am on 21 Oct 2010, U14656610 wrote:

    Would someone please enlighten me as to how it is that Mothers putting their kinds in 9x5 care is seen as social progressive, as Mr Barber seems to suggest? Please, have children really become so commoditised? Would people stop skirting around the issue, do they really think that growing up and only seeing your parents properly on the weekend is a good thing? A good thing for relationships and society long-term? I don't think so.

    As already mentioned in this thread. The think-tank appears to be hinting that people should take responsibility if they have children and do the right thing by them. You can't have your cake and eat it, so make your decision and keep your child at the forefront.

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  • 39. At 09:52am on 21 Oct 2010, healthytoes wrote:


    So Mark, what IS the present "role for women"? Is it the same as the role for men?

    I would just like to know where exactly you are starting from.

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  • 40. At 09:54am on 21 Oct 2010, Jewelsy wrote:

    I'm growing tired of all this talk of people being "attacked" by the Government cuts. Nobody is being attacked - the plain fact is that the country owes massive amounts of money, and cuts are necessary to reduce the crippling interest payments that everyone is paying towards (directly or indirectly). Simple arithmetic, not vitriol, is what's behind the cuts - if you borrow money, you have to pay it back - a fact that a lot of people in our consumerist society seem to ignore. If we still had our Gold Reserves we'd be in a better position - but dear Mr Brown saw fit to flog those off years ago!

    Yes, the public sector will be hard-hit, but the private sector has been making jobs cuts regularly for years; I worked for a large bank where it happened every six months, with people living under the shadow of being forced to apply for their own jobs regularly.

    I was made redundant at the beginning of the year. I could have sat around waiting for someone to help me out - instead I chose to help myself and my family and started a small business. It fits in with my family life far better than the previous insane scramble of commuting and working for someone else did, and I wish it had happened years ago!!! We are all much happier, and I expect that many other people will find the same if it happens to them.

    The Government isn't responsible for people's personal success - that's down to the individual, time we remembered that!

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  • 41. At 09:55am on 21 Oct 2010, Alison Whitmore wrote:

    I am a public sector worker, and feel as if a sword of Damacles hangs over my head. I have been feeling for a while though that women have a raw deal. The amazing gains made by Feminism and Equality laws, have left us under immense pressure to 'have it all', going to work and raising children. I am beginning to feel now that by working I am missing out so much on thc life of my children, but if I stay at home I am somehow a second class citizen, not contributing to society. When will we appreciate the enormous value of the role of primary child carer, whether it be the mother or the father?

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  • 42. At 09:59am on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    I think many people are looking at solely 1 part of these cuts. The issue for me is that the cuts do not send out a "coherent message".

    Take for example the public sector cuts, I don't think it is a gender thing as other have pointed out, and Jill Kirby's comments don't help.

    But if you take her words and the Child benefit cuts together they do not match ! In this day and age the average household salary is needed to be £40k plus to have any sustainable "disposable income" ("disposable income" is what the retail economy works on and what the recovery will be based around). The average salary is £25.5k therefore two earners are needed. If the "women" was to be at home full time, the partner would therefore need to earn c.£45k in real terms (due to Taxation) to be int he same position. HOWEVER ! The new child benefit cuts mean that a family would actually be penalised for taking this action..
    Also factor in Tory plans to reduce teh higher rate (40%) tax band to 40k and then 36.5k over teh next parliament and it just increases the already glaring problem.

    Also the cuts are sold on a "fair" basis, and "broadest shoulders take the burden" basis. I note that Government (who are well paid) has only taken a 2.2% cut in funding where as other departments (which tend to employ the "normal earners") have taken 7-8% cuts... Also take into accoutn that MP's have a "defined benefit" pension scheme, into which they pay precious little. Other people such as probation officers already pay 6% into their "defined contribution" schemes. Therefore putting 3% on all public sector pension schemes means the lower paid will be hit harder, such as probation officers who will be putting upto 10% of their monthly pay into their pension scheme.... Fair ? No, Broadest shoulders taking the Burden ? No...

    And where are the Lib dems in all this ?

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  • 43. At 10:14am on 21 Oct 2010, Jo wrote:

    its all very well and good women loosing ther jobs and having to look after their children because they cantaford child care if they have a parter who can bring in some income. yes in many familie two incomes is vital but one income is better than none and if single mums are put out of work it is hard for them to find other full time work that will fit around looking after the children.

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  • 44. At 10:20am on 21 Oct 2010, ScaaarBeeek wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 45. At 10:21am on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Post 41.

    I see what you're saying but in times of financial difficulty it is difficult for the state to warrant giving money for staying at home. But in saying that I don't see how they can then penalise single earning families in the way they are with the child benefit and current tax plans, it seems they want iboth ways.. hence my commetn about "fairness"? Surely it would have been "fairer" to means test the child benefit.... yes it would cost £100m to save £2.5bn... butit would be "Fair"...

    With regard women getting a raw deal. The strive has been for equality for a while, however in many ways the doctorin has been "equality as long as our gender gets the best of it". Its not just he expectation of some that equality does not stretch as far as both men and women having the right to a seat on the bus (I had a women on the train claiming I should stand as I am male and she is female - Equality ?). But also that things like parental leave, maternity leave, career breaks that women get but men are not entitled to make the equality issue a difficult one... men are not entitled to maternity pay, and so the market makes allowances for this kind of thing so womens pay is slightly lower than on average than mens, but this is seen as unequal.. HOW ?

    Also I have heard moanings about the retirement age rise to 66 for men and women. That ist is unfair on women who could have retired at 60 before (compared to their male counterparts at 65)... Equality ? On average a man will contribute more into the state pension, and will live less long after retirement therefore the cost to the state will be lower. Therefore equaling the age actually addresses an underlying "inequality".

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  • 46. At 10:24am on 21 Oct 2010, Christine wrote:

    What the government is doing doesn't make socio-economic sense and I'm glad that someone is finally making that point. There's an army of well educated 30-something women, educated at the expense of the tax payers, who are now being forced back into the kitchen because the Tories have decided that if you want to have children you can't have a career. That may be fine for wealthy heiresses such as Mrs Cameron who doesn't have to worry about her future. The rest of us don't want to be at the mercy of our husbands' whims. Our marriages may be great when we decide to take a career break and start our families, but what are we supposed to do when we stand there with three children and our husbands decide that they're no longer interested in us because the intelligent and vivacious woman they married is now bored with housework and has nothing of intest to say because the only people they ever come across are more bored housewives? By giving up work, we've given up our pension contributions, we no longer have private healthcare, and we struggle to get hired by anyone other than the public sector as private sector employers take one look at "single woman with children" and run screaming in the opposite direction because they equate that with being unreliable.

    They say that they want to make Britain a competitive knowledge economy, so why are they implementing policies that force half the workforce out of that economy for a decade each? Their knowledge will be obsolete once all the kids are in school and they have to start all over, competing against new graduates who don't have the same responsibilities as they do.

    What a waste to force well educated middle class women to spend their days wiping bottoms and cleaning kitchens. I agree that there needs to be a crackdown on benefit scroungers, but giving well educated women a little bit of help to stay in employment for those 4 years between the end of maternity leave and the start of school is investing in the country's economy. It keeps nursery teachers in work. It keeps shops open as there's more disposable income to spend. And in the long run it'll make these women less dependent on state pensions and state funded care for the elderly as they'll be able to pay their own way for a lot longer.

    I can't believe I'm saying this as I was, until a few weeks ago, a long time Conservative supporter, but I hope the LibDeb MPs wake up before it's too late and realise that the current lunacy will spell the end of their party and force a new election. My vote will not go to the Tories again. I've learnt from my mistake.

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  • 47. At 10:25am on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    Rosie – I suggest that you read some history. Well over a century ago – in the oh-so-respectable Victorian era – there were police no-go areas. Borough in London was one, with an estimated population of around 50,000 (it's approximately 5,000 today). Perhaps you think that polite society existed in such areas?

    In pre-WWII London of the 1920s and 1930s, there were also police no-go areas – Bermondsey was one, where such things happened as council staff being stripped naked and sent packing after daring to come to enquire why children were not at school.

    Perhaps you imagine that London was not the world capital of child prostitution at the end of the 19th century? Or that the word 'hooligan' did not evolve from a music hall song about anti-social behaviour? Perhaps you don't know that, in the 18th century, a popular pastime amongst young males, from across the social spectrum, was holding up coaches, overturning them and setting them on fire?

    I suggest, if you have the time, that you get hold of London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew. There are plenty of other books out there about crime – including child crime – in past times. Have a look at the Charles Booth Poverty Map, which is available to explore online at booth.lse.ac.uk.

    Jewelsy – since you mention gold reserves, perhaps you'd also like to consider which government used the monies from North Sea gas to fund de-industrialisation. You'll need to concentrate your attention on the 1980s.

    Snowman UK and Tez – you both seem to have missed the posts where it has been explained that, given the cost of living, for most families it is essential that both parents work: it is not a choice, it is essential.

    juliet50 – the cuts have not affected the rich on anything even remotely like the same level as they have and will affect the poorest people in our society.

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  • 48. At 10:29am on 21 Oct 2010, Roddy wrote:

    Our society isn't really ready to have so many women in the workforce anyway. There is a greater expectation for men to have jobs than for women. Just look how unpopular the concept of a househusband is.

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  • 49. At 10:29am on 21 Oct 2010, Jillo wrote:

    I think it is now time for everybody to take responsibility for the lives they live and that includes the choice to bear children. Are we not forgetting the reason we earn a living? If, as a society, we valued the free things in life, i.e. service to family, kindness in the community perhaps these cuts would not be so daunting. We all have to eat yes and have a roof over our heads but UK lifestyles nowadays tend to be unattractively greedy.

    The party is now over and, for some, it's time to go home and do something useful.

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  • 50. At 10:30am on 21 Oct 2010, Jo wrote:

    just because single mums in some cases may be single because of their own choise does not make it any easyer for them to jugle children and work without any help. also the need for money should nto eb the driving force behind finding a partner. women do also have whole families to look after. and it is appauling to say that all women who are beaten by their partners are jsut a violent. its not true. i had to itness very rescently my mother being beaten by her boyfriend and she is not a violent or angry person and had one nothing to provoke it. this is all besides the point and slightly off topic. yes it is bad when anyone looses their job however if you have children to look after and no one to mind them while you go out looking for work it makes it somewhat harder to find it

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  • 51. At 10:36am on 21 Oct 2010, AW wrote:

    This sort of attitude in this day and age really enrages me. Why on earth should this burden and sacrifice fall to women? Men are just as capable of caring for elders and children as women are. As are they capable of building the Big Society. The very idea that these responsibilities should fall along gender lines is outrageous and offensive. Jill Kirby ought to be ashamed of herself.

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  • 52. At 10:37am on 21 Oct 2010, Scarborough Fair wrote:

    How dare Jill Kirby tell women what to do - its 2010 for heavens sake and many ordinary women work to pay for necessities but obviously she had no idea about this! If a disproportionate number of job losses do fall on women then really I find that unacceptahle but wonder what could be done about it. Especially as trade unions are already forcing women to accept setttlements against councils when revaluing their work which does not reflect the loss of earnings over time when they are the very organisations which should be helping them. As for the Big Society nice idea but once again doubtful it will ever really get going.

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  • 53. At 10:45am on 21 Oct 2010, Hairy Dan wrote:

    #7 "Aargh" - What do you mean by "Can we afford to use our taxes to subsidise the breakdown of society"? Has society broken down? Can't say I've noticed. Where are the riots in the streets, the starving millions? It would certainly be very odd for the government to encourage that at the taxpayer's expense.

    Judging by your poor grasp of the English laguage, perhaps what you mean is the decline of the education system? Or perhaps you don't really know what you mean and are just repeating what it says in one of the more rabidly intolerant "newspapers".

    If what you're trying to say in your semi-illiterate way is that immigrants are costing the government money which could be spent on reducing the deficit, I suggest you have a look at some actual figures instead of believing everything you are told.

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  • 54. At 10:49am on 21 Oct 2010, Tez wrote:


    47. At 10:25am on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:
    "Tez – you seem to have missed the posts where it has been explained that, given the cost of living, for most families it is essential that both parents work: it is not a choice, it is essential."
    ---------------------------

    IN REPLY:
    Hi! Sybarite...
    you misread my post, part of it also suggests that Employers pay a decent wage that would remedy that problem. I came from a very 'lowly' Family - but my Fathers wage was adequate enough to allow my Mother to stay at home and look after 3 Children in the '60's.

    It's a terrible sad fact that since then, Employers have effectively cut the wages so that it now takes TWO earners to earn a comparative living-wage that was earned by ONE - in the past...

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  • 55. At 10:50am on 21 Oct 2010, U14656556 wrote:

    Hear, hear mrsbloggs13c2!! I am frankly very tired of hearing women complain about making a choice, between work and children, that is simply not offered to men. The state has already outbid poor men in support of single mums, who are now able to dispense with fathers for not matching up to unrealistic feminist expectations - that they were neither considered in nor consulted about.
    No woman would accept that she could be dispensed with, once the man has his job, his home etc, and then can rent her children back from him every other weekend while she lives in a bedsit. But that is seen as a perfectly acceptable outcome for men under feminism and the state support of single mums.
    Women have been fantastic at demanding equality, but appalling at offering it.

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  • 56. At 10:51am on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Poster 50:

    I'd just like to point out that no victim of crime is any better or worse than another. However, there are Violent women as well as men (although possibly not as many), crime statistics show that there is a growing number of reported cases of domestic abuse against men by partners. Issue is that in many cases men are not willing to report it due to the undertne that "you're a man, deal with it", "its not manly to suggest you're being abused by a woman". Therefore alot goes un-reported.

    As I say it is sad that ANYONE regardless of gender is offended against.

    Your point about single mothers is a good one and only further backs up my point about the thoughlessness that has gone into some of the cuts such as the child benefit cuts, and "big society" thinking. However, being a single mother in SOME cases is a choice, and the state shoud not be forced into paying for people who make a social choice to have children to claim benefit and avoid work. The see-saw between cutting this choice and protecting the legitimate needy is something that is hard to do, but not something I think this government has got right...

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  • 57. At 10:51am on 21 Oct 2010, Johnny B wrote:

    A different perpective on fairness is that women were preferrentially employed by the public sector before. In a post-industrial society, it's a good idea to provide employment doing vaguely socially useful things. However, in the circumstances, I'd spend the debt we have on encouraging growth and preferrentially providing work for young people, who have the real rough end of the stick.

    Gender pay gap statisics are clearly misleading given the prevalence of women in the public sector - because they do not include public sector pension benefits which are actuarilly assessed at over 30% of salary. Another H Harmanism.

    I'm also very uncomfortable about the annexation of the teaching profession by women, particularly given the relatively poor performance of young males through the school system.

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  • 58. At 10:53am on 21 Oct 2010, Silvia wrote:

    Jillo
    Unfortunately for ordinary working people, a lot of them do value the things you mention -'service to family, kindness in the community' etc. This puts them at a disadvantage in the society we have at present, in which, ultimately, the only value is profit. If something is free, it has no value - which was my point about British women increasingly reducing the size of their families or opting not to have children at all. The contributor who said being a househusband was unpopular is so right - free labour+ no income = not valued. Sorry. This is the world we live in.

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  • 59. At 11:05am on 21 Oct 2010, Teenie wrote:

    As a working mother I find myself constantly stressing about how much time I spend at work, how much time I spend at home with my family. I like my job, I like the 'adult' time it gives me, but I also like spending time at home with my family. Given the option I would prefer to be at home more with my family, but financially I can't. I don't get any help with my childcare costs so I need to work to pay for them. I would be substantially worse off if I gave up my work, so giving up work and saving on childcare doesn't work for me. My husband and I like having our own roof over our family's head. The society we live in is supposed to be equal, but yet again the Tories are showing that they are not forward looking, but backward thinking. But as usual with them it'll be the middle to low income families who will suffer so that they can keep up the Tory ideals of looking after the rich while damning the rest of society to pay for them! Now with 500,000 jobs likely to be going in local government it looks like my husbands job could go and with all the outscoring my company is doing so could mine. So after the government gets it's way and I get to spend more time at home with my sons, I would be able to afford my mortgage, will lose my home, find a council house, oh no wait no more council houses, will it be a private let then or a caravan. And with all the cuts in local government spending, there'll be no support network to help my family, to find new jobs, a suitable house. So there we go the governement has created another family dependent on a crumbling, underfund, overabused welfare state. WHats next privatise the NHS so that only the well off can afford healtcare. God help us with the Tories in charge this country is heading towards hell in a handcart!

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  • 60. At 11:08am on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Poster 55:

    I'm not sure thats quite fair, but I see where you're going with that. The payments for children where a relationship breaks down SHOULD work both ways but often doesn't purely becuase of SOCIETIES views. In an equal society the BEST CARER for a child would be the one who gets custody and therefore the other partner would pay maintenance. However in our society this is 90% of the time viewed as the women (regardless of ability to look after teh child) and therefore the man pays the maintenance. What is interesting is in cases where the MAN gets custody (for what ever reason) often the maintenance payable by the mother is either nil, or the man still pays a small maintenance to the mother.. unequal.. of course.

    However this is jsut the ay society has been brought up to think about things... not the governments fault (see my earlier post on social inequality: Pensions)

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  • 61. At 11:11am on 21 Oct 2010, PH wrote:

    When people talk of the impact of these cuts on women I think they miss the point. I am a female Director of a business in the north east and the working women I meet are usually the breadwinners in their households. They are the skilled workers earning about £20K+ while more often than not their husbands or partners are manual workers on lower wages and thats not even mentioning the single mothers who are the only breadwinners in their households. To say that these women somehow have the choice to work or not is a completely out of date assessment of todays society and the economic reality facing families, both men and women.

    Working women already face many inequalities in the workplace that is just a fact, they do shoulder the majority of social care in their families from looking after children to elderly parents but over the years attitudes are changing and supported by legislation and education women are making real progress to not only equality but financial independence which is surely a good thing for society. Women who can look after themselves and their children without relying on the state. A large part of the drive to make work a more friendly and supportive place for families (men and women) has come from the working practises of the public sector, whose flexible shift patterns and support for carers has filtered through into the private sector and that is a very good thing.

    I am very concerned that the cuts will effect women more than men, not because women should be immune or because more women are employed by the public sector, but because of the lack of women's voices in the current coalition cabinet and the underlying assumption in all of these changes that women have a choice to return to the domestic role and financial dependent on some mythical male breadwinner. That is just not my experience. We cannot turn back the clock to some utopian age when women stayed at home and men went out to work and everyone was happy, its a myth.

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  • 62. At 11:19am on 21 Oct 2010, Helena Handcarte wrote:

    Of course, there should have been positive discrimination towards women in the cuts. The Chancellor should have actively cut more heavily in sectors which employ men. (Sarcasm ends)
    A nice, well argued and balanced article, Mark. (Whoops, my sarcasm button has stuck)

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  • 63. At 11:27am on 21 Oct 2010, Helena Handcarte wrote:

    Mark - you need to get out more. Talking to people in the public sector likely to lose their jobs and union leaders is all very well. But there is another side to the story. Speak to a private sector tax payer. There are a few of us out there, you know, in spite of New Labour's best efforts.

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  • 64. At 11:29am on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    Sybarite @ 22 - thanks for the figures, I think that is a good example of the problem which, along with the comments from IfIhadthewings @ 42 give a really good explanation of the problems a lot of families face.

    I would like to add that around our way nursery childcare costs are around £40 per day per pre-school child for a standard day. (Actually start around £50 for younger children so £40 is a rough average). If you work 240 days a year that is £9,600 a year for one child and £19,200 for two children.

    This means that you need to be earning £19,200 after tax just to break even. Earn any less than this and going to work costs you money.

    £19,200 after tax is about £25k Gross pay and you need to earn this while working only between say 09:30am and 4:30pm to allow drop off and pick-up.

    The whole time you still have not earnt any money that actually covers more than the childcare. You have not covered your travelling costs, clothing costs, cost of lunch at work. You certainly have not made a contribution to mortgage, heating, electric etc.

    So, if we say that we have costs associated with going to work of £100 a month and that we want to actually make a positive contribution to the household budget of, say, £200 a month ...

    You need to be earning £22,800 after tax which is basically £30k a year gross. If you treat a "normal" job as 8 hours a day for 240 days a year then £30k is roughly £16 an hour.

    I don't doubt that there are lots of families who find a second wage vital to their family finances, even where the wage is only modest. But clearly those families either have a very different childcare option in terms of cost, or they are in the position of having tax credits subsidise their childcare.

    To finally get back on topic, I think that there are a lot of women who simply can't afford to go back to work. The reduction in low paid civil service jobs is not actually likely to have a big impact on those women as it seems unlikley the posts being cut would have paid the rate necessary to make a return to work economically viable.

    If the only other option is to use state subsidy to make it appear that returning to work is econcomicall viable then maybe the message here is that as a nation we can't actually afford to continue perpatuating that wrong impression.

    I think we need to recognise that it may not be viable to work while children are small but we need to make it much easier for women to return to the workforce after having children.

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  • 65. At 11:55am on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    Helena – I am just what you describe: a private sector taxpayer (although let's just clarify at this stage that public sector workers pay tax too, since you seem to imply – accidentally, I'm sure – that only people in the private sector pay tax).

    But not all of us think as you appear to imagine all taxpayers in the private sector think. We are not one unified tribe of private sector taxpayers who all feel or think the same. Just because I am a self-employed individual who has enjoyed some career success in recent years (finally!) and pays quite a large amount of tax does not mean that I do not understand that a cohesive society requires public spending.

    I can be all the above – and still know and understand that de-industrialisation was politically motivated, was stupid and cost the British taxpayer (in public and private sectors) a fortune as revenues from North Sea gas were used to fund it.

    I can be all the above and know that privatisation saw hospital cleaning staff halved – and hospital-acquired infections soar. I do not need to be a rocket scientist to see a link.

    I can be all the above and realise that, in recent years, we have not seen stories about people dying on trolleys in hospital corridors. I can be all the above and realise that it's exceptionally rare to see stroke patients with calipers or claw hands any more, because of the investment in therapy and care.

    I can be all the above and realise that, if I want to live in an humane and fair society, I, as a more privileged member of that society, need to pay a little more because I am able.

    You may wish to consider that the loss of half a million public sector jobs will impact on the private sector too. Estimates vary, but a further half a million is regularly touted by reputable and non-political sources. Perhaps yours will be one of those?

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  • 66. At 11:56am on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Bob6000bob, Post 64:

    I think you've missed the part where single earning families (with single earner earning 40k+)are now being hit by not only a reduction in child benefit, but also a looming increase in taxation, these are the only types of families who can realistically afford for a partner to stay at home.
    This will make your point on the merits (or not) of returning to work a bit different as this will force many who WERE going to stay at home while the child is small, re-think as the differencial in income will need to be met somehow, while the family next door still gets the benefit while earning proportionally more.

    I understand what you're saying re: impressions, but the govenments actions are just reducing options for families not increasing them, and also giving another false impression that earning more is BAD !!!

    Surely a better idea would have been scrap child benefit all together but increase statutory maternity pay ? Therefore your point would stand...

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  • 67. At 12:11pm on 21 Oct 2010, jpluy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 68. At 12:15pm on 21 Oct 2010, JaneBloggs wrote:

    Jill Kirby says that "It may be better news for women not to spend money on childcare any more and to look after their own children and fit jobs into the child's day", but she seems to be missing a few important points. As has been pointed out by several posts, in many households a double income is vital, but a place in nursery averages at £1000 pr month so for many families it makes financial sense for one parent to stay at home while the child/ren are young. But when the children start school, what then? Which private company will employ someone who has been out of work for 4-5 years, no matter the reason? Their skills will need updating, their contacts will have gone and this often has an impact on the person’s self esteem in a job situation.

    Also, I’m not sure which jobs Ms Kirby had in mind which can easily fit around the school hours of a young child? So this then adds more years on to the amount of time away from the workforce. And during these years, the government loses out on the tax income which they would have provided and they will be relying more on state support for their later years. So in the long run, the government is shooting themselves in the foot. If these parents are then able to get a job after such an extended time away from work, it will be in lower positions than they would have been in if they were able to keep working, which again deprives the government of tax and yes, lowers the amount they are able to put towards pension contributions. Despite ScaaarBeeek’s understanding of women, most of us prefer not to rely on the money-making abilities of our partners or husbands. I am the main breadwinner in this relationship but both our incomes are valuable contributions to our household. If either of us were to stop working we would have to rely on the state for help, not to mention if there was another mouth to feed. I have no intention of burdening my partner’s shoulders with having to support a family on his own.

    A common statement in this discussion has been that if women want to work and have a family, they will have to make some sacrifices. Last time I checked, it takes two to tango, so why isn’t the same asked of men?

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  • 69. At 12:16pm on 21 Oct 2010, Mark Harrison wrote:

    I run a small IT company.

    The vast majority of our programmers are women.

    In exchange for flexibility on our part about working conditions (something like 50% of our staff only work during the term-time), and the resultant need to carefully schedule project workloads around certain times of the year, we have a happy, motivated, intelligent, hard-working, team.

    The private sector can adapt - there are some businesses that obviously require mostly "front-line staff" on call, but an awful lot of jobs can be done part-time, flexibly, and split office/home based.

    It just requires management who value great employees who actually deliver, rather than "ease of planning by watching over shoulders."

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  • 70. At 12:17pm on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    IfIhadthewings @ 66

    Sadly I had noticed the point in reduction in Child Benefit and I agree that families may well now feel the need to try and somehow "make good" the reduction in their household income.

    All my figures were meant to demonstrate how extremely difficult it could be to find employment and childcare options which combine together to actually make work pay.

    If I want to "make good" the child benefit that we would lose of say £1,700 for a year, I need to find this mythic job where the hourly rate of pay exceeds my hourly cost of childcare by about £10 an hour (maybe only £8 an hour if the only income I want to replace is the £1,700 rather than the £2,400 my figures would give). You would think that £16 an hour for 8 hour days would earn you the £1,700 a year back again with only 2 or 3 days a month of work but that overlooks the many costs that you need to set against the earnings.

    Where will this work come from? Frankly it won't come, it is just not out there. This means that although I might want to "make good" the child benefit we have lost it is simply not possible to do so and thus our only option is to "tighten our belts" and make do without.

    PS. This child benefit policy has me hating the family next door (from your example), they already pay less income tax than me. Whilst I am willing to accept the hit on child benefit on the national interest I consider the unfairness of this aspect of the implementation to be shocking. I have written to my MP to make the point (as it goes).

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  • 71. At 12:40pm on 21 Oct 2010, twistywillow wrote:

    In the cold light of day, whilst the dust is settling, the chancellor will bear the brunt of his speech yesterday and will just carry on and ignore it all. Professional he may be but human he isnt.I saw a man who looked bereft of any humanity regarding the effect of his words on the people of this country, we had a chancellor like this before, and he became PM who only showed he was human on the day he left office.
    Thing is now, I can see the difference between the two, one who was trying to help people and make sure the country was a good fair place for raising children, and the other who is just the accountant trying to balance the books, which I have to say I really dont think are in that bad a state and that the conservatives are milking it for all its worth to drive a wedge between the voters and drive them further apart because lets face it, this last election was too close to call for either of them.
    It occurred to me, that the conservatives have done this cut back and review along party lines. They are not hitting OAPs or the rich or middle class.(Except the token Child benefit cut off point) The traditional voters of the Conservatives, they are hitting the poor, the working class, the sick, disabled and those who are traditional Labour supporters. What happened? some one say ok, lets punish the labour supporters by taking away the jobs and social benefits of those people who work in public sector. I dont care about the bank levy, that will only make things worse as it will get passed on to us anyway in stealth charges and hidden rates.It means nothing, however taking women out of the work place and back into their homes would be great (I know of very few women who work because they want to after they have children, its because they have to) IF the government can give their husbands and partners a DECENT living wage and a DECENT full time job. There is little evidence to suggest that is what is planned, so there will be an implosion whilst society readjusts itself just because for the next 5 years (I seriously doubt this government will get voted in next time) the Tories want a CONSERVATIVE society again, traditional and secular. Whatever my personal feelings are, I think this is wrong,it wont happen, it isnt right to take away womens jobs just because it doesnt fit a party ethos. Yes the labour party had a liberal way of thought, equality and for everyone who wants to work, can, but the new system is biased against women,and now the sick and disabled. I have left the Lib Dems out of this, unless there is an uproar at grass roots level about all this, they are in it for the long run and I seriously doubt there will be a Lib Dem party left to vote for in 5 years time.
    I didnt vote for this, lets face it no one did, Cameron and Clegg have used the whole coalition thing as an excuse to throw away their party manifesto and promises, which they clearly had no intentions of keeping.

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  • 72. At 12:42pm on 21 Oct 2010, JaneBloggs wrote:

    Mark Harrison: I salute you! Your IT company is a beacon of hope and I'm sure all your employees repay you with loyalty and hard work. If only more private companies would also realise that a happy workforce is a hard working workforce.

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  • 73. At 12:45pm on 21 Oct 2010, kamekathee wrote:

    We women are continually castigated for not saving enough for our PENSIONS. The cost of HEALTHCARE is almost certainly going to go up and not down in the future. And now there is a groundswell of "a good idea would be for women to stay at home"; supported by more men than one may imagine.
    Jill Kirby is curiously silent on the question of female pensions. Do we rely on a kind-hearted, reliable male, husband or otherwise? What do we do Jill?


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  • 74. At 12:58pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Bob (Post 70):

    I think you get my point, but was trying to keep out of numbers as I am not in that exact position.
    But you certainly understand the Child benefit point.

    My issue with the whole thing is that many families will now be a darned if you do darned if you don't position... something that the government sees as "Fair" and "getting people off benefit"?

    What did you think on my ideal on Maternity pay ? also how would you get round the whole issue ?

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  • 75. At 1:05pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Twisty: Post 71:

    The middle classes aren't getting off scott free, many of the people being made redundant are in that category. Plus if the Tory plans on higher rate tax come about the "middle Class" will be hit with upto a further £125 a month tax bill !!! (7.5k change in higher rate tax band @ 20%)

    I see precious little hitting the "Rich" or even "Government". Just another Tory goevernment looking after number 1...

    I don't see the torys surviving in power next term, as the lib dem supporters will not side with them again.. and tehy've cut adrift the middle and lower classes...

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  • 76. At 1:13pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Jane @ 72:

    Many private firms do, but not every firm can a) afford it or b) manage it as it all costs and jobs still need to be done.

    Having worked in both Private and public sector, I think much of the waste can be saved by running the public sector more like the private but while still in teh public hands (not for profit - government owned).

    In my time in the public sector I saw such practices as 1) Buying microwaves/fridges and computers at year end to protect the operating budget 2) leaving off staff on maternity leave from Employee numbers to be able to recruit more staff and not planning for their return 3)hiring taxi's to go from One office to another when the other office was 300 yards away !

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  • 77. At 1:18pm on 21 Oct 2010, Arrrgh wrote:

    Outside the working classes the traditional view of Victorian women is that they were little involved in business or enterprise and that their lives were largely devoted to the private sphere of domestic and family life. Certainly the cultural and evangelical ideals of the period placed women on a pedestal of moral probity, motherhood and domestic orderliness. There is some evidence that middle class women in some sectors of the economy did increasingly withdraw from direct involvement in family firms in the mid Victorian period, whilst the legal status of married women and their limited property rights made it difficult for them to operate in business on their own account at least before the 1880s. - BBC

    How lucky are we to live in a world full of wonder and discovery.


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  • 78. At 1:18pm on 21 Oct 2010, healthytoes wrote:


    "Geoff Mulgan, former strategy advisor to Tony Blair and now head of think tank the Young Foundation, says women will have to take responsibility as the state withdraws from childcare and elder-care."

    And why exactly is Geoff Mulgan telling women anything? Why doesn't he tell men to "take responsibility as the state......"

    Perhaps he could rethink parental responsibility. Or adult children taking responsibility for their elders. Why this continual, endless insinuation that women, whether mothers or not, are solely responsible for caring, with the corresponding insinuation that men, whether fathers or not, are incapable of the same.

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  • 79. At 1:46pm on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    Tez – I completely agree that there is a real need for a meaningful living wage.

    But that has to be in tandem with dealing with the exorbitant cost of housing, which I (and others) have mentioned above.

    And raising council rents to 'market' (or close) levels is not going to solve the problem – for similar reasons to those outlined above. In my area (Hackney, the second poorest borough in England), a new block of flats was built about three years ago. As a requirement of planning permission, half the flats had to be available for 'key workers'. These were therefore sold at half the 'market' price by the private developer. For a one bed flat, the 'market' price was £250,000. Therefore, the price for a 'key worker' was £125,000. But we go back to the point I made earlier – if one assumes that a sensible mortgage is no more than three times one's annual income, then that 'key worker' needs an income of £41,666 per annum. That's almost twice the national average median wage. As of 2009, a nurse's pay was between £18,861 and £28,781 – well below the level for a sensible mortgage on a single-bed flat for a 'key worker'. For someone who is, say, a teaching assistant or a meals-on-wheels driver or a carer who helps to ensure that elderly people can stay on in their own homes (and therefore cost the state less), the pay is rather lower.

    But it's worth remembering that we should avoid the temptation to view the past through rosy-tinted glasses. Many mothers, down the decades and centuries, have had to work – my own did in the 1970s. In some ways I think that culturally, there is a tendency in the UK to foist middle-class views and experiences onto the whole.

    More generally, comments here about public services discriminating in favour of women as they are predominantly staffed by women are facile in the extreme.

    One of the reasons for that state of affairs is that the 'caring' jobs predominantly rely on women, Men rarely apply to be carers, for instance. If they become primary teachers or nursery workers, there's still an insidious belief that there's something wrong with them – perhaps that they're even an abuser. It's changed a little in nursing, but not altogether.

    The 'caring' jobs are notoriously badly paid – not least because they are undervalued socially (and it is difficult to calculate the obvious benefits to the economy) and because they are seen as 'women's work'. It's no coincidence that the average wage for a nursery nurse is less than that for a carpark attendant.

    Another reason that many women take up 'caring' jobs is that they can often be flexible, allowing women to deal with their own caring responsibilities too, since in general, these still fall primarily to women.

    There may be nothing wrong with that – with an understanding that women (in general) are the more 'caring' sex and therefore more likely to take on more caring jobs. But it needs to be understood that these are valuable jobs, not just for communities, but also for many women for whom the income, however small, is light years from being simply "pin money" as one poster asserted earlier.

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  • 80. At 1:55pm on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    @ IfIhadthewings

    Are you thoughts on maternity pay linked to the European proposal to extend Maternity on full pay for something like 20 weeks (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8533438.stm), or just a coincidence?

    Personally I think that increasing the cost of paying for staff to be at home whilst also paying for their replacement to be in work is an unrealistic burden to place on business. I think that it will introduce even more bias against women "of childbearing age" even getting into the workforce.

    I think that I would look at introducing some sort of extended career break contract. I think that an employer should be required to hold open a role until the child is much older than 12 months, for example school age. This would allow women to return to the workforce. In return, the woman would guarantee that she will not seek to return to that role any earlier, allowing the employer to plan appropriate long term staff cover. It might be reasonable to surrender rights to the actual maternity pay in exchange for the option to return to work. This could be important as attaching a monetary value to a contract often makes it much more binding and enforceable. The contract would need to make clear that the employer is responsible for enabling the woman to receive any additional training required to cover changes to the role since her maternity leave started.

    As a result maybe a woman could surrender a set amount of maternity income for the right to return to work. In situations of breach of the contract, the maternity pay could become payable. Ideally, in cases where the agreement had been broken because the financial cost of paying the maternity was not enough of a disincentive, I think damages should be awarded.

    I believe in Finland you can take unpaid maternity leave until the child is age 3 years, so I suppose I am looking at something similar.

    My main aim would be to enable more women to re-enter the workforce, whilst also allowing the employer to plan long term staffing and not to place unnecessary cost on the business in respect of staff who are providing no actual service at the time.

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  • 81. At 1:59pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Healthytoes (78)

    You missed the point that men are meant to be out earning money and drinking port while women are menat to be at home cleaning and cooking... ;0)

    More seriously though.... men do not have the same provision in the workplace to do this, women get maternity pay and holiday (men do not), career break options (men do not), a women asking to work term time only is FAR more likely to be granted to a woman than a man...

    Also if a relationship breaks up children are automatically placed with the mother, not with the dad. When the mother gets custody, the dad pays the mother maintenance.. in this scenario it is right, but if the dad has custody then it should be the mother paying the father right ? WRONG ! if the dad gets custody, he still has to pay maintenance (of some sort) to the mother, while still incurring the costs of the child. Therefore mothers should take some more responsibility no ?

    But I agree in theory it does seem a little unfair...

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  • 82. At 2:12pm on 21 Oct 2010, peapod20 wrote:

    It is sad that in 2010 women still have to choose career or children.
    Pregnancy and becoming a parent is not an illness, it is a gift. This just shows how women are treated in their careers when they have children, unsupported and unable to fulfil their potential in all areas of life.
    Men are just as capable of being carers of the elderly and children as women and many are adjusting to their new role in society brilliantly.
    Shared responsibility is the way that it should be.

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  • 83. At 2:13pm on 21 Oct 2010, Christopher Glover wrote:

    Why is being a stay-at-home mum NOT socially progressive?

    I take no joy in people losing their jobs but why is nurturing, caring for, encouraging, guiding and loving the next generation seen as an insult to a woman's intelligence? Of course it is an extremely challenging job. But isn't it also filled with significance and purpose if it seen from a the right perspective. Who better is there to educate the heart and mind than the mother or father?

    With the push to prepare children for primary school isn't the home filled with infinite educational opportunities compared with the artificial environment of the nursery (however well intended)?

    With the expected rise in women being stay-at-home mums wouldn't it be better to seek ways to support them in their role and even let's be careful now, esteem the role as worthy of honour, respect and dignity!

    We have chosen this role ourselves for our family which will probably mean we will have to rent all our lives. The housing market being so over priced that only (on the whole) two income families can afford to get on the ladder.

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  • 84. At 2:14pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    @ bob6000bob

    No link just coincidence.

    My thoughts on your proposal although good, would be unworkable for a lot of families if you're talking unpaid leave, as (as alot of people have pointed out)lots of families rely on 2 incomes.

    Also what happens to the temporary cover ? The training that person has then recieved is redundant again in favour of someone who is 5 years out of date.

    Its a difficult conundrum, but my point would be why aren't businesses and government looking at extending flexible working practises for men AND women... There seems to be a misconception that women will want to stay with the children for the 5 years or so. In my household, my wife and I earn similar wages, she could take maternity then a career break, but come the end of that has no wage, therefore earning falls on me only. With tax implications it would be beneficial for us to work each say she work 2 days and me 3, therefore both would be working (to a point) or she could work 2 and me 5 with 2 of those from home. However, the way working is portrayed is that for me it is either you do or you don't for women there's more flexibility. thy is there not flexibility for both ?

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  • 85. At 2:29pm on 21 Oct 2010, JaneBloggs wrote:

    Bob #80,

    Of those 3 years which Finnish women get are 105 days paid maternity leave (at 80% of annual wage) and a share of 158 days paid to share with the father. Not including Sundays and other holidays. The father also gets 18 days paid paternity leave and an additional 4 weeks "daddy month" paid. The amounts of the maternity, paternity and parental allowances are calculated in the same way. The amount is normally linked to taxed earnings and it depends on your status (working, attending school, ill or unemployed) and fluctuations in income. Most Finnish mothers take a year or so off and then return to work. But they have to notify their employer about how long they intend to take off in advance, just like in Britain.

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  • 86. At 2:41pm on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    @ IfIhadthewings

    I wouldn't mind at all the idea of each of us working, say three days a week, (with a need for childcare for one day of the week). We wouldn't be financially any better off but we would be at about the same level as with one earner and we would each remain "financially active".

    Trouble is that the attitude in the workplace to a man reducing his hours to 3 days a week is to suggest that he is not "serious about his career". It is also extremely difficult to move employer if you are trying to find a contract on "reduced hours" or "flexible hours" so actually getting an agreement to those terms is one heck of a pair of "golden" handcuffs.

    Many businesses are built on the assumption that, when push comes to shove, desparate male breadwinners with a family to support will work all the hours god sends to meet deadlines without actually earning any overtime or guarantee of bonus, just becasue they have no job security and need to foster as much "goodwill" as they can.

    Their efforts will largely count for nothing as the firing decision will be blind to all but the most superhuman of overexertion.

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  • 87. At 2:47pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    Jane @ 85,

    Sounds like a great plan to me, where do I sign up ?

    Seriously though, that kind of plan (although expensive) give some sort of medium between fathers rights, mothers rights and flexibility. Soething surely could be worked out to help the average family...

    Like I say I have worked in both Private and public sector and the view of mens rights to look after the children is: "you can't, unless its unpaid and short term", where as mothers: "how can we help ?". Doesn't paint a very "equal society" (I know the father can't do somethings that the mother can.. but in essence...)

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  • 88. At 2:49pm on 21 Oct 2010, healthytoes wrote:


    # 81
    Not at all.
    Both of my brothers looked after their children, one because he was widowed and the other when he divorced. He did not pay nor receive maintenance. They worked out their own arrangements and put the kids first.

    My brother-in-law took a year off work to care for his daughter when she was 3 months old. Then job-shared for 2 years. Decision made by both parents of the child.

    My point quite simply is that parents have children and have responsibility for them. Dredging this all back to men on the left and women on the right or viceversa misses the whole point. I agree with peadpod's shared responsibility.

    mrsbloggs at #10 is correct.

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  • 89. At 2:58pm on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    JaneBloggs @ 85

    In terms of notifying an employer of how long they will take off "just like in Britain" I would point out that actually there is very little obligation for a mother on maternity leave in Britain to discuss her intentions with her employer.

    A mother is entitled to go off for maternity leave giving no indication and the employer has to make the assumption that she will just walk back into her old job 12 months later. The woman can return at any time earler than the 12 months, provided she gives notice 6 weeks before the date she intends to return.

    As a result, an employer is not actually entitled to any indication from his employee of the length of their absence and any indication that they do give is not binding, subject to my comments above.

    Thus an employee may leave for maternity leave saying that they expect to return to work after 9 months when the money dries up. The company hires a temp on a 9 month contract. The employee finds that they can't live on just the statutory maternity pay and gives notice that she intends to return to work after just 5 months, leaving the employer with the cost of terminating 4 months of a contract.

    Alternatively, the employee decides that they love being a parent so they will stay home for the full 12 months. There is no obligation on them to inform their employer of this so, when the 7 month point rolls around and no request to return to work has arrived the employer might be able to assume that their employee will not be returning after 9 months but they have no idea when they will actualy return to work. How long do they seek to extend the contract of their temp for?

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  • 90. At 3:01pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    bob@86

    My point exactly, that the workplace is not and never will be a level playing field, and although other posters have suggested it is "against women" in actual fact it swings both ways...

    Your point on working 7 days a week.. what industry is that in ? Most people work 5 ? (unless you work Monday to Friday and your Wife Wednesday to Sunday, but then you have a 2 day "non overlap")

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  • 91. At 3:05pm on 21 Oct 2010, Helena Handcarte wrote:

    Sybarite – I think we all accept that a cohesive society does need public spending and there should be no split of views on that down the private/public sector taxpayer divide. What we are arguing about here is the level of GDP going into the public sector.

    The system has to be sustainable to be effective.

    New Labour’s policy from 1997 was to bloat the Public Sector until it has been taking nearly half of our GDP (48.1% I think is the figure for 2010/2011), a growth which has contributed to this country being saddled with the biggest deficit in the G20.

    I’ll take your point that there have been improvements in service – but I suspect that these are very small ‘bangs’ for the barrow-loads of ‘bucks’ which we’ve thrown into the public sector’s bottomless wishing well. And I speak from a fairly balanced perspective: I’m in the private sector, but my better half is in a quango which is inching ever closer to the bonfire.

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  • 92. At 3:09pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    #88

    It is good that your brothers were able to do that but the vast majority of people are not in that position, especially if it is not an amicable breakup.

    My father and mother divorced and had a few children. My dad was given the option in court - 1) Pay maintenance to my mum and she have custody, or 2) Pay reduced maintenance to my mum and take custody.
    the basis was that my mum had lower earning potential and therefore should get a handout from my dad irrespective of if she worked or had custody.
    My mum would not put the kids first even though my dad was willing, but she held the upper hand as it was in her benefit either way !.

    I accept that both have responsibility, but I have heard this above type story in a number of cases. Is that FAIR ?

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  • 93. At 3:15pm on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    IfIhadthewings @ 90

    No - misunderstanding.

    I do only work 5 days a week. If I worked three out of five days I could be at home for 2 days a week. If my wife worked three out of five days, two of her days could be the days when I am at home for childcare (vice versa) but we would overlap for one day of the week and we would need some childcare for that day. Both at home on the weekends hopefully.

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  • 94. At 3:33pm on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    Helena – until the banking crisis of 2008, the deficit was little different from that which Labour inherited from John Major in 1997. It only soared to the levels that you mention because of the decision to bail out the banks.

    Before that bailout, this Conservative leadership stated that it would match Labour's spending on public services. This is on record. So one is left to conclude that either spending was not a problem at that time or that the Conservative leadership deliberately ignored that in the hunt for votes.

    Just over two years ago, there was an extraordinary shift in blame from the bankers and financiers to public services. It happened over the course of about two weeks at the end of summer, just before the conference season. Public services have been made a convenient scapegoat because politicians in general are terrified of the banks and big business (both of which attempt to hold the country to ransom by threatening to clear off if governments don't do what they want – so much for the 'free' market with no political involvement).

    Let us not forget exactly who caused the financial crisis and the recession.

    Taking a lead from this government's liking for simplistic analogies, would you seriously believe that, if someone came into your home and made a mess, they should not clear it up or pay for it to be cleared up?

    Public services are an easy target for the media: nurses, doctors, PCSOs, social workers etc don't usually hit back and threaten to sue when some gutter-scraping rag blames them for something. Many aspects of the public services deal with issues that are not pleasant – in other words, not 'sexy'.

    Just as there has been a widespread acceptance that 'elf 'n' safety' is the reason that, for instance, some schools have banned conkers, and not a dread of litigation, there is a ready belief by some to believe that the public services as a whole are absolutely heaving with financial waste. Just look at how the 'gold-plated pension' myth was so readily believed, to the extent that Lord Hutton specifically refuted it in his recent preliminary report.

    Perhaps the problem is that many people appear to prefer the worst-case scenario – it makes for better reading?

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  • 95. At 3:34pm on 21 Oct 2010, JaneBloggs wrote:

    Bob @89, that's pretty much how it works in Finland as well. What I meant was that the employee has to notify the employer about any extention or reduction to the intended plan. I think it's 8 weeks, but I admit I'm not entirely sure about that. I don't have the numbers in front of me at the moment. With regards to your and IwfIhadthewings' plans about flexible working I would absolutely sign up to any employment where I and my partner could work part time or (ideally) work from home for a few days a week. Wouldn't that solve everyone's problems? 2 incomes, no nursery fees and the employer gets you (if not in the office but producing work) all week! And there is the preconseption, which you correctly pointed out, that any man (or woman, but particularly men) working less than full time isn't serious about their career. This socitey needs a slight culture shift in the home/work sphere. But alas, not under this Conservative government (the libDems are just cosmetic).

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  • 96. At 3:40pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    bob @ 93,

    Still don't get what you're saying ?

    If you worked 3 of 5 days you have 2 days at home.
    If your wife worked 3 of 5 she has 2 at home.

    However you are both working one day, yes you would need shild care but I assume the £40 child care you talked about earlier still stands and therefore I assume you'd both earn more than £6 an hour (£40/7 hours)...

    Plus say you both earned £25k (£50k net) then you'd be saving more than that in tax benefit (compared to a single earner on 50k) as you'd not be paying higher rate tax on 6k of your income... (£40 a week at 48 working weeks = £1920, tax saving from both working = £2100)

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  • 97. At 3:47pm on 21 Oct 2010, mr megatron wrote:

    Interesting notion.
    With the female work force being squeezed in the public sector and governmental support for marriage with enhancements to marriage benefits, it could be surmised that the government is pushing towards the 1950's model of women staying at home while men earn the bread.
    The problem is that back then and up to the 1970's, that model worked because men earned much more relative to the cost of living. Equality, taxation and fiscal policy drove down the wages, such that it's more financially sensible for both members of a married couple in a family to go to work. Going back to the model we had 40 years ago would have a serious impact on quality of life, hit the middle-class families hard, and drive up the poverty line, enveloping lower-paid families that were previously solvent.
    Such a shame that the police force is being squeezed too, as we'll need them to cope with all the civil unrest that is about to come.

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  • 98. At 3:47pm on 21 Oct 2010, bob6000bob wrote:

    IfIhadthewings

    Think I went off down a cul-de-sac. I agree with your last post.

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  • 99. At 3:47pm on 21 Oct 2010, IfIhadthewings wrote:

    bob @ 93,

    Still don't get what you're saying ?

    If you worked 3 of 5 days you have 2 days at home.
    If your wife worked 3 of 5 she has 2 at home.

    However you are both working one day, yes you would need shild care but I assume the £40 child care you talked about earlier still stands and therefore I assume you'd both earn more than £6 an hour (£40/7 hours)...

    Plus say you both earned £25k (£50k net) then you'd be saving more than that in tax benefit (compared to a single earner on 50k) as you'd not be paying higher rate tax on 6k of your income... (£40 a week at 48 working weeks = £1920, tax saving from both working = £2100)

    sybarite @ 94:

    Please don't tarnish all banks withthe same brush. There are a few banks out there like HSBC who have always been very prudent and did not require government bailouts ! However, what the govenment are now doing is tarnishing all banks with that brush as it meets their political gains... The public should not be so daft...

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  • 100. At 4:25pm on 21 Oct 2010, VernaG wrote:

    I am finding it increasingly worrying the number of you out there who have the mistaken belief that ALL Dad's pay maintenance for estranged wives/partners and dependent children.

    This country is full of Dad's who pay absoluitely nothing to support their children. That they all do is a masculinist myth

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  • 101. At 4:43pm on 21 Oct 2010, Sybarite wrote:

    IfIhadthewings – fair point that it was not all banks. However, I disagree entirely that the government is now blaming banks. It's actually making the public services bear the brunt of the cost of the havoc that (some) banks caused.

    The levy is a minor sop to public opinion. As I said earlier though, just over two years ago, the blame for the crisis was shifted strongly away from banks and financial institutions to the public sector (all that rubbish about 'gold-plated pensions' etc).

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  • 102. At 4:51pm on 21 Oct 2010, AshL wrote:

    The comments from the various conservative think tanks are deeply worrying - also exposes their true, antiquated views of a "womans place". Why should women be prepared to be stuck at home looking after the kids and the elderly as suggested? Why should such roles be expected to fall to women? Women are as talented as men and there should be no expected "gender" roles. They forget also that a lot of women work because the household can't manage on a single salary. That isn't likely to change. The Conservative's views have no place in a modern progressive society - perhaps they'd like us all wearing burkhas and chained to the kitchen sink?

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  • 103. At 5:02pm on 21 Oct 2010, Johnny B wrote:

    I'm afraid I don't understand people's comments about blaming banks or the public sector. The reality is that the tax on banking profits up to 2007/8 paid for the expansion in the public sector. That's gone.

    The banks based their illusory money by leveraging off housing bubbles and cheap credit. I vividly recall so many people exulting about rises in house prices that I view as a social evil. None of us are as rich as we thought we were, so get used to it.

    The real injustice is for young people right now.

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  • 104. At 5:25pm on 21 Oct 2010, starFloridian wrote:

    If Republicans regain control of the House and, dare I say it, the Senate, in the U.S. November 2 elections, the bloated bureaucracies created by the Obama administration since his election face similar cuts as those now being mandated by the Cameron regime. SOMEONE needed to take the drastic action that is necessary for economic recovery, and it seems that Cameron has had the guts to do just that. We can only hope that on this side of the Atlantic we can find someone with the same kind of courage.

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  • 105. At 5:37pm on 21 Oct 2010, Wendy wrote:

    I really don't think the recent announcements will make much difference to who stays in the workplace (men v women). Women who want to work, and are determined to do so, will carry on doing so if they can.
    The reason I think that is because of the jobs available. For example I've been job hunting now for over 6 months, and need a 'mans' wage to keep a roof over my head. However most of the job vacancies in my area are barely paying the minimum wage, which to be honest is not a proper living wage, unless you live at home with your parents, it's a second income, or you have dependents and you are then in a position to top it up with tax credits and other benefits like that.
    I also believe that in this recession, unlike previous ones, it's the decently paid white collar jobs that have disappeared, and as a result of that it's mainly middle class men that have been the victims, not so many women this time around. I only have to look around me at the Job Centre to see that.
    So perhaps some women haven't got it so bad after all!

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  • 106. At 6:23pm on 21 Oct 2010, w-mum wrote:

    i find this conservative 'womans' comments offensive.
    my husband is a civil servant as i was before i moved to a different job. most civil servants are under the national average wage as we both still are. our son is in school, and goes to before and after school club and holiday club so we can both work full time to be able to have a home to live in,and have a half decent life, able to buy things other than just food and heat. we pay an average of £65 a week over a year for these clubs with us recieving £9.65 a week in tax credits which is barely more than the cost of a school dinner, so not the biggest handout in the scheme of things.
    why should i stay at home and be totally dependant on my husband? i am not a 'housewife' and have no intentions of being so. all of us need time in different social groups to be able to grow in life.
    i am a wife and mother and deserve the respect of the government whom i have the right vote for or against.
    until of course that is taken away from me....

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  • 107. At 7:16pm on 21 Oct 2010, Christine wrote:

    In case you didn't know, if a woman chooses not to go back to work after her maternity leave she only gets to keep her SMP. The extra maternity benefits paid by her employer will have to be paid back.

    Most women who've been on maternity leave in this country find that not only is our system grossly inadequate for the mothers, it's also totally unfair on the fathers. My husband had to take annual leave after his first week of paternity leave to help me when I brought our baby back from the hospital.

    I have friends in Sweden who shared the parental leave 50-50 as each parent got paid 90% of their salary when they were on parental leave so it didn't matter who in the relationship earned more, they both got a chance to be at home with their babies and help them learn all those new skills we pick up in our first year of life. The Swedes have managed to keep this benefit through the economic crisis, under a centre-right government, and have come out the second most competitive and economically sound country in the world. Why can't we send our chancellor on work experience in Stockholm?

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  • 108. At 8:34pm on 21 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    #107

    I have three children. There was no paternity leave. My husband took annual leave only once. We managed. They and us are perfectly well adjusted.

    My mother had five children. There was no paternity leave. My father could not take annual leave. They managed. We are all perfectly well adjusted. As well as caring for off-spring, they didn't have central heating and had to make up coal fires and boilers, didn't have automatic washing machines, did not have throw away nappies etc., no internet shopping, my mother walked everywhere.

    Man up, woman.



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  • 109. At 8:42pm on 21 Oct 2010, theo bowman wrote:

    Has Army500 not heard of male nurses & midwives? Midwives have the responsibility for the lives of two people each time. Specialist nurses like myself, have responsibility for recommending treatments and management for specific conditions which requires knowledge, skill and clinical judgement, which i think is perhaps somewhat more skillful than electronics! Another implication of Mark's suggestion that it will be women in 'caring' public sector will loose their jobs is the effect on the poor patients/clients who will suffer many of which will be on reduced benifits!

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  • 110. At 8:42pm on 21 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    #106

    There is nothing wrong with being a housewife.
    You have the choice not to be one.
    You exercise that choice.
    You are protected by laws against discrimination.
    What more do you want.

    According to you its to buy things other than food and heat. Why do you think that other citizens should support that desire. Its not government that subsidises you its your neighbours.

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  • 111. At 8:49pm on 21 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    #102

    Anyone would think that caring for family members, friends or neighbours is a second class activity. Its not. Its rewarding, challenging and entertaining.
    No one forces women to fulfill certain roles.
    They have as much free will as men.
    They make choices that suit circumstances.
    So we can't all have it all.
    What a surprise.

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  • 112. At 8:51pm on 21 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    #97

    'it could be surmised that the government is pushing towards the 1950's model of women staying at home while men earn the bread'

    Why could that be surmised. It could be surmised that men stay at home while women earn the bread.

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  • 113. At 9:06pm on 21 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    And to those that say what about single mothers, they don't have choices.
    Do you think everyone in the past stayed married happily?
    Of course they didn't, but they stayed together because they'd made choices and felt responsible for them and generally couldn't walk away.
    Well modern women made choices.
    They chose to have children.
    They chose not to stay married.
    They had free will.
    There are consequences.

    Of course there are male reprobates. But no-one make women choose them.

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  • 114. At 9:44pm on 21 Oct 2010, Silvia wrote:

    mrsbloggs13c2

    Caring for family members, friends or neighbours may well be 'rewarding, challenging and entertaining'. What it isn't is profitable, and since profit is the motivation and priority of our socio-eocnomic system, it is definitely a second (or even third or fourth) class activity. Anyone wishing to devote themselves to the challenge and the reward needs a. a private income or b. some other human being working to support them or c. have no physiological requirements for food, clothing or shelter. These last three being what most of us work for in the first place, along with maybe one or two modest pleasures, if the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich can stretch to it. This is why you don't find David Cameron, Nick Clegg, or even Jill Kirby caring for their family, friends and neighbours (though we may devoutly wish they would, rather than their current pursuits) but making money, friends and influence in public life that will stand them in good stead and continue to keep them rich long after their current lamentable spell in government is over.
    You are quite right in saying that women have free will. Rather than swallowing the incredibly inept ideology of a government that suggests they might like to stay out of work and poor so that the members of said government (and others) can continue to get richer, they might exercise that free will in making the choice to work for money, refuse poorly-paid 'caring' jobs, refuse (just as most men do) the notion that looking after the world is somehow their bag, and not to have children. The consequences would then be for the rest of us and for the state.

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  • 115. At 11:38pm on 21 Oct 2010, jules1978 wrote:

    comment 113
    Yes dear, us 'single mothers' did choose to have children, however, we did not choose to marry a man who could not keep to one women for the rest of his life! Something that when you do marry and make the choices you do not realise is going to happen.
    My husband left me when I was 17 weeks pregnant and if it wasn't for my family, close friends and a fantastic department at work (the school in which I teach very successfully) I do not know how I would have survived. The husband is now living with another women and although pays minimum maintenance and does see my children has very little to do with daytime care of them. I returned to work after 4 months of maternity leave as I could not afford to pay the bills and debts we aquired as a couple. If I did not work fulltime I would not have any life, would probably suffer from post natel depression again and would not be able to afford the treats for my daughters which 'society' has made neccessity!
    Before making small minded comments on how 'us' single mothers have made choices, please consider how some of us did not have a choice we just 'had the paradise carpet ripped from under us'!

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  • 116. At 02:48am on 22 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    #115

    I am sorry that you married a bounder and I understand that if that happens, there are consequences and further choices to be made.

    The fact that you were surrounded by other decent people is what I would hope for. I would hope that family, friends and colleagues would step up to the plate. That does not mean that those that do not know you should feel any obligation to you, practically or financially. They might have obligations to their own family, friends and colleagues. They might have to provide cover or cut back on their own earning potential to manage circumstances they feel responsible for.

    Its not acceptable to focus on one's own story and expect others to do the same. Every one has a story.

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  • 117. At 03:16am on 22 Oct 2010, mrsbloggs13c2 wrote:

    #114

    You can hardly get a cigarette paper between any of the politicians.

    If you could, the last 13 years might have seen some real reforms of corporation law, corporation taxation, regulation for example.

    What any politician, pundit, talking head, analyst or bum on seat has to say should matter not a jot. There is a difference between the group and the individual and each individual has to get by as best they may.

    The best they may has to take account of individual circumstances - financial, practical, domestic. There is no one answer.

    I might choose to work more for more money and pay for stuff. Alternatively, I might choose to accept that the balance of need means that less cash means a greater ability to juggle responsibility with the downside of less purchasing power.

    I might choose not to have children. In a world of 7 billion people, where most women are still unemancipated, that might not be a bad thing.

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  • 118. At 03:31am on 22 Oct 2010, BlogWarrior wrote:

    No thinking person cares whether this is "socially progressive" or not. Ideological wessel words like that are excuses for condeming those who disagree with your opinions or commending those who agree with them.

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  • 119. At 09:25am on 22 Oct 2010, jrs wrote:

    As the diminishing public sector as a provider of flexible work will affect women most severely, I am also wondering what happens to National Insurance contributions for the ‘stay at home mum’ who no longer qualifies child benefit? At present, Class 3 NI contributions continue when receiving child benefit for a child under 12. But, for women that now won’t qualify for child benefit, will they also lose potentially years of state benefits such as pension contributions etc..., thus rendering us impoverished in later years?

    For those already faced with a very difficult decision about caring for children vs work, I only hope that having taken away both child tax credit and child benefit from middle income earners (which I think should have been a universal benefit until the child’s 5th birthday to enable women perform this vital caring role in pre-school years – don’t forget we’ve already given up career progression and employer pensions making us much poorer than our (usually) male counterparts), that the Big Society will at least continue to recognise our contribution through the NI system.

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  • 120. At 11:05am on 22 Oct 2010, boudica1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 121. At 11:07am on 22 Oct 2010, AngryWithOsborne wrote:

    Re comment 113 and 115



    Mrs Bloggs,

    Forgive another personal story in the interest of explaining a point. And without understanding the individual personal stories you mis-understand the situation.

    Here's my story:

    I am a former carer (for my grandmother who was disabled and had terminal cancer) a responsiblity I left a well-paid job to take on for several years with zero family support or assistance from any of my family (including her daughter). I recieved carer's allowance for a few weeks (at a rate of £45 per week).

    I felt I had no choice about doing it as I loved my grandmother, though I am myself disabled and it was hugely financially and emotionally stressful,and it left me seriously emotionally and physically battered not to mention in grief.

    Having subsequently worked in a care home I feel sure I made the right choice for my gran.

    I married a lovely man and we planned our life together, we knew having children would be hard and planned our way around it. It was an informed choice; we had known each other for many years, were both the same religion, and undertook marriage prep for a total of 20 weeks prior to making the decision to marry.

    Having relocated to care for Gran my husband and I have both worked menial jobs while we tried to find better and enhanced our qualifications working 7 days per week between us since my daughter was 6 months old (I got no maternity leave and was not claiming benefits) and were still barely able to make ends meet.

    Our relationship deteriorated due in no small part to financial pressure, the death of his mother and his change of religion, and, in my view, the poor calibre of single male friends he was hanging around with and he left me and our child (then 3) last year.

    My job had unsuitable hours and I couldn't afford childcare so I had to give up work to care for our child.

    My "choice" if I had one would be to work full-time in the job I am qualified to do and to spend quality time with our daughter. I am trying to get there and though the job centre are not chasing me to I am applying for 3-4 jobs per week but it is very difficult, given my disability (which not even you can argue is my "choice") and my situation to get employed.

    Whilst my husband pays a little over the minimum the CSA would award it is impossible to support a child and pay a mortgage on this, let alone our debts from university. I am sadly am unable to leave our child with him at the moment and in total I have had about 4 hours child care from my sister in 4 years and none from any other family member. I care full-time for our child and struggle to pay for childminders to fill in the gaps.

    My husband used the excuse that it was "his choice" to leave us. I humbled myself and begged him not to and to try and work at the relationship. We are still married (he does not have grounds to divorce me yet.)

    I know plenty of single mums in the same boat. The harsh reality is that our society does not now attach a stigma to a man for having left a family. And the CSA which is a joke and should be the absolute minimum and is calculated on a man's income, is regarded by irresponsible men as the total a wife and mother is due.

    My point is that your views are out of touch with reality, and somewhat offensive to the large number of highly-responsible and caring single mums forced into this situation and facing a huge challenge. Who now face benefits cuts.

    I would like to add that I will be boycotting "Big Society" on principle.





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  • 122. At 10:17pm on 22 Oct 2010, entreri100404 wrote:

    3. At 9:38pm on 20 Oct 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    "Could just as easily be a cull of male workers especially in office environments where women naturally have the ability to multitask far better than men."

    [citation needed]

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  • 123. At 10:23pm on 22 Oct 2010, entreri100404 wrote:

    121. At 11:07am on 22 Oct 2010, AngryWithOsborne wrote:
    "I know plenty of single mums in the same boat. The harsh reality is that our society does not now attach a stigma to a man for having left a family."

    You are right - In fact our society actively encourages fathers to leave a family by granting child custody to the mother, in the VAST majority of contested cases, regardless of the individual's suitability or not, and regardless of whose fault it was -or not - that the relationship failed.

    As a woman, you really have nothing to complain about when it comes to the family court system - nothing at all.

    And I would be very interested in hearing the reasons why your child "sadly cannot be left with his father"?

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  • 124. At 11:18pm on 22 Oct 2010, PDC66 wrote:

    Wow, what a surprise, an issue where women are worse off than men and suddenly a glut of newspaper articles and discussions on television. Women are paid less because they CHOOSE to do less well paid jobs(public sector). If men were the worse affected there would be NO articles etc. Now how about some high profile campaigns on sorting out the sexism against men regarding retiring later, dying earlier, higher suicide rate, poorer exam results, less funding for cancer - but of course none of these are the result of sexism, they're all because of male lifestyle choices I suppose.

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  • 125. At 5:39pm on 25 Oct 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    I think women tend to fair better emotionally in an economic downturn than men because who they are isn't really wrapped up in their job. There's also the accepted notion that most women aren't the major bread winner in a family. Women are probably more likely to take a lower paying job because they deem it as a sarifice for their family whereas an income reduction for a man might be considered a mark on his masculinity as a good provider. Men can become agressive when they feel their food source is threatened whereas maybe a woman would consider other creative sources seeking out a feeding shelter, taking her children to a supermarket where they serve samples, trading services like free babysitting for bags of produce. Women seem more adaptable to tough times because deep inside every woman's psyche is a homeless fear. They plan. Where is it safe to sleep If I become completely destitute? Where would I take a shower? Which hotel serves free cups of coffee? This would make a really good reality show: How people cope when they've suddenly been thrust out of the economy.

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  • 126. At 5:58pm on 25 Oct 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    entereri100404,
    Society shouldn't bemoan the fact that women receive state aid when their husbands abruptly leave because they are the caretakers of future generations. The only thing the state should do is pass requirements on care. If a woman gets help then she needs to ensure that her child attends school, gets decent grades and isn't socially stigmatised. The cost of productive, well raised citizens is actually a benefit to the government. If only I had been compensated for the great citizen I produced as a single parent. I'd have been a bizillionaire by now.

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  • 127. At 6:25pm on 25 Oct 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    In defense of mrsbloggs13c2,
    She is right. Why do we have a society that raises irresponsible men? With every child a woman buries herself into deeper financial poverty. When society allows men not to take care of their financial responsibilities it ensures that his child grows up at a disadvantage because the child internalizes that he is unwanted when a father leaves and doesn't pay child support. Very strict penalties should be placed on men who abandon their responsibilities like getting cash under the table or emigrating to avoid child support. If a man chooses to emigrate then he should lose his citizenship because he has turned his back on his country by not supporting a future citizen. There are wonderful responsible men but there are also cads who should be required to step up to their responsibilities.

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  • 128. At 02:03am on 26 Oct 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    BOUDICCA where are you?

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  • 129. At 6:00pm on 26 Oct 2010, theworldhasgoneinsane wrote:

    It looks as though the ConDems want to turn the clock back to the 1950's when women stayed at home, brought up children, ran the home and then resorted to Prozac because they had no external stimulation that we take for granted in going to work. It seems as though the Tories are trying to engineer the kind of society where women become the great "unpaid workforce" of the "Big Society". Looking after children and then elderly parents and being dependent on men for whatever financial crumbs are passed their way. This is all very well, but considering that if women are expected to do this, are we going to be paid by the state to look after our families, will our NI stamps be paid, or will we also be expected to work part time/full time to keep the economy going and qualify for any pension at all? These are valid questions and most likely the answer will be No. As a society we are being put in a position where the clock will be turned back, whether we like it or not, to a time where homelessness is rife, women are forced into lower paid menial jobs, such as working in a shop or cleaning, because they are the only part time jobs available that fit around child care, women's place in society will become less valued, all because a few men at the top of government have difficulty in relating to any woman with a brain and the ability to use it. Be in no doubt, any woman wanting to better her position by getting a degree and working her way through a company to a better life in five years time will be considered a social pariah, an oddity. I am also saddened by the amount of anger and bitterness directed towards women, the low paid and public sector workers. Not an intelligent use of energy and one that does no one any favours. There needs to be more intelligent debate on women's and men's place in society and what we want from each other that isn't manufactured by government. Like it or not, it has taken 13 years of Labour government to eradicate homelessness in our cities, this will now be reversed. It has taken 13 years where people have felt safer in their jobs, this also will be reversed. I'm just waiting for a re-run of John Major's speech in the House of Commons where he said it was worthwhile having 3 million unemployed people because the economy was booming. Remember, this is what you voted for in the elections, hope that makes you feel better when you collect your P45.

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  • 130. At 3:08pm on 27 Oct 2010, farihah wrote:

    Mr. Easton, I'm not sure your own figures back you up.

    You state 'Today, twice as many women as men work in the public sector' but later claim that it is 'disproportionate' if 300,000/500,000 jobs cut are held by women.

    Clearly, 2/3 > 3/5.

    This means proportionately less women will lose public sector jobs than men.

    And that's without even starting on the argument that cuts should be based on where previous efficiencies existed and not blindly based on gender politics.

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  • 131. At 7:35pm on 27 Oct 2010, histJunkie wrote:

    Barbara - I did not suggest that women should be paid by the state while staying at home to raise children. I said that women should not be used for unpaid voluntary labour in the public sphere outside the home. If Cameron is planning on achieving his Big Society on the unpaid backs of any sector of the population, then everyone should be outraged. Nobody should be given such lack of respect. Those toiling on Big Society work unpaid would truly become an underclass.

    Christopher Glover @83 suggests "...let's esteem the role [of stay at home mum] as worthy of honour, respect and dignity." but it never has been and never will because your status is always linked to your economic level. There is a telling expression about this stay-at-home-mum situation, that it is "only a man away from poverty". The majority of men would never advocate being "only a woman away from poverty" as a universal choice for their gender, nor would any male prime minister suggest it.

    Staying at home to care for others will never be respected and that lack of respect is so engrained that it extends into paid caring jobs outside the home. As Sybarite @ 79 puts it, "The 'caring' jobs are notoriously badly paid - not least because they are undervalued socially (and it is difficult to calculate the obvious benefits to the economy) and because they are seen as 'women's work'. It's no coincidence that the average wage for a nursery nurse is less than that for a car park attendant."

    If the head of the the think tank, the Young Foundation, says that women will have to take responsibility as the state withdraws from childcare and elder-care, one thing is obvious to me. That this suggestion does not originate in a respect for women's labour, paid or otherwise, but from a dismissive view of women and their status in society.



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  • 132. At 12:55pm on 28 Oct 2010, Laurie Wilson wrote:

    considering most females get paid a good percentage less than a male doing the same role, I can't see how too many women are going to be affected by cuts in the public sector? Lets see, I'm 38, a management accountant, I know a male of my level who earns around £10k pa more than me. If cuts are to be made, surely it makes more sense to pay off the person in the same role that's earning more? Surely the difference in salary would more than cover any redundancy due at a higher rate due to higher salary but therefore you still have someone more than qualified in the role but working for less money (as per the norm for women unfortunately!)

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  • 133. At 03:40am on 24 Nov 2010, HeebieBeebies wrote:

    All well & good – but have the politicians thought about the fact that, in cutting women’s-type-of-jobs (rather than men’s), they will be ousting from the workforce ALL kinds of women. These cuts will threaten the income of all women, not just those with partners and in a financially co-supportive relationship.
    In other words, job losses will crucially affect several groups of women:
    1. Single women who have not got husbands/partners at home to support them - i.e. they need to bring in their own income.
    2. And job losses will also adversely affect those women who - even if they are in a relationship - 'bring home the bacon' themselves, rather than their partners doing so for them.
    3. Not to mention the group of women who, even if they do have a supplier of a workable income at home to pay for their upkeep, have no children at home to care for. This means they have no parenting interests with which to 'fill their days', so the loss of their job - which gives them a real purpose in life - will not be beneficial in any way. Either to them or to the 'parenting-starved' society that politicians love to say we live in today. Even hobbies - the frequently timely resort of the unemployed - cannot always fill the gap of self-respect and fulfillment that a worthy career can give. It is not only men who identify through their career. Politicians would be wise to remember this.

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  • 134. At 2:58pm on 11 May 2011, Marketa wrote:

    I just hope that in the long term, these changes will lead to a better economic future, but I do not see how the cuts are going to help prevent equality being replaced by inequality for women.

    http://wordplayblog.co.uk/2011/05/the-red-tape-diet/

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  • 135. At 6:32pm on 11 May 2011, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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