Comments for en-gb 30 Mon 05 Oct 2015 02:27:22 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at Secret Love Government policies that tax all workers to provide child care for working mothers could be described as philanthropic, social engineering, or just plain stupid.I favour the last option - nobody is oblidged to have a child, if you are not prepared to make the sacrifices in life style that being a parent demands, then don't have children.It's not somehing that can be fobbed off to the state nurseries while you continue your two income living.Schools are not nurseries - children should not be dropped off and 08:00 and collected at 18:00 - I know it's a terrible thing to say - but children need their mum ! Fri 26 Sep 2008 17:41:38 GMT+1 DPanna The only people who benefitted from women going out to work were the rich. All that now happens is both adults in the family work like slaves to line the pockets of the elite rather than just one!!! Fri 26 Sep 2008 09:18:25 GMT+1 Pat_N_Interrupt Sadly, the last 40 years has seen a society move from where it was becoming acceptable to see married women go out to work and earn their own salary, to a society where many married women have NO CHOICE but to go out to work to pay the mortgage!40 years of economic progress and for a typical family all they have to show for it is less free time, less choice, more expense for nursery care, and a huge mortgage on an overvalued house (forgetting the broader social problems caused by absentee parents).Here's a thought - if mortgages on houses had been limited to say 3-4x ONE wage-earner's income, house price-to-income ratios would never have gone as crazy as they have. Married women could have chosen to stay at home and live in a nice family house, and bring up kids, or they could have chosen to go to work to earn money to spend on luxuries.If that had been the case though UK GDP would be far lower today than it otherwise is, the UK would look poor on international comparisons, and there would be a much lower tax base.Politicians and economists care about statistics implying an improved standard of living, not the de facto reality. Tue 23 Sep 2008 21:06:50 GMT+1 alphaHebrides I suspect that many economically inactive in large urban areas are also single parents, who may not be able to afford to work or may not be able to find work with hours sufficiently flexible to manage alongside childcare.As a single parent in a rural area with my own small business, I employ a number of otherwise economically inactive staff, many of whom are also single parents.Many of my staff remark on how inflexible most workplaces are for single parents, making it almost impossible to either find childcare that fits with working hours, or finding work that fits with school hours. As a business owner, it makes business sense for me to employ workers flexibly, to allow them to balance work and home life - so why can't other workplaces be the same? Tue 23 Sep 2008 10:03:56 GMT+1 DistantTraveller Another day, another bribe.By trying to influence how parents bring up their children, we see another example of the nanny state. Tue 23 Sep 2008 04:18:16 GMT+1 trogette #22 hear hear!I'm in favour of paying the parent(s)-in-residence a set amount a month, the same per child for everyone like a larger Child Benefit. The parents then get to use it on nurseries if they wish to, or not. And this could continue right the way through childhood giving parents genuine choice in educational provision too.Let's allow parents to be parents, their way. Not the one-size-fits-all Government way. Tue 23 Sep 2008 01:01:01 GMT+1 han_jay I would be intrigued to know what the true figures are for stay-at-home parents (it is a shame that this is considered not important enough of a job to be included in the census form). I moved away from the UK a few years ago and live with my husband in Germany. Currently, he is doing a masters degree and I am the main bread winner. I was delighted to discover that I do not have to pay any tax at all (just health and social insurance, which also covers my husband) while we have this arrangement. If we were both earning, the tax would be so high on one of our incomes that it would hardly be worth it. It means that when we do decide to have children, one of us can stay at home. I love that the tax system actively supports family life here: there aren't any "tax credits", just a (much) lower level of taxation on the one income. I guess that if I were the sort of woman who wanted to keep working it would be very frustrating, but in that case the solution is not to marry. I personally cannot imagine how difficult it must be for some women to be forced to release their children into daycare when they are so young, just because it is not be possible to survive on one income. Parenting is the most important job most of us will ever do and I really wish that it could be facilitated by a less complex and crippling tax system in the UK. Rather than having policies to make it easier for mothers to go to work, leaving their two-year-olds in childcare, I would rather that government policy leaned more towards helping all families to have the choice as to what is best for them. Mon 22 Sep 2008 16:51:16 GMT+1 ATNotts Why is being "economically inactive" such a crime?I firmly believe that a good part of the social problems of the UK, and it's poorly behaved young people is that far too many are put in the situation where they have more than one set of "house rules" to work to. By this I mean that they can play their own parents off against, granny and grand dad, auntie this or uncle that, or nursery. As a result they can grow up indisciplined, and unused to not getting what they want, when they want it.We have got to a sorry state where our aspirations for buying property, and buying all the latest electronic gadgets and gismos, taking foreign holidays and the like have got in the way of bringing up kids within the family.The general behavior of young people on continental Europe may be better than in UK, in part because there is not the same pressure for both parents to work to pay the mortgage as renting property does not have the negative stigma that it has here. Mon 22 Sep 2008 15:58:13 GMT+1 babybat I'm a well educated, professional woman in my mid twenties, earning an average salary; and I've started to think that when I have children, I would prefer to be a full time parent than return to work. It's not that I don't have the skills to work, or even the cost of childcare, but that like a lot of people, my job just isn't particularly fulfilling, and being a stay at home mum seems preferable compared to doing a job that I don't love. I'm a feminist and I completely understand that for a lot of women, work has resulted in financial independence and a wider range of options, but some people will never love what they do, and would prefer to concentrate on their family. Rather than just trying to urge everyone back into work, maybe we should try and understand why they make the choices they do. Mon 22 Sep 2008 15:51:49 GMT+1 Anne Sullivan "There isn't a census box for "at home looking after the kids" but it's thought that most of the 4.1 million people who fell into this category in 2001 were exactly that."In other words, that is a wild guess and in lieu of actual information, it is not very useful as a starting point for discussion.By the same meaningless statistics, you could argue that given the economic forecast is for increased unemployment over the next few years, wouldn't it be in the country's best interest to encourage more single earner families? That would theoretically free up more jobs so that you would have fewer households in unemployment.This theory is, of course, nonsense. Neither jobs nor workers are interchangeable; if the job needs do not match the skill set available, the unemployment will not change but the number of jobs that need to be filled will rise.Stringing together unrelated and incomplete bits of statistics may be a useful starting point for a chat at the pub, but it is a very bad basis for serious discussion about economics or sociology. Mon 22 Sep 2008 14:25:31 GMT+1 colin_prout I don't think the government should have a view (or any policies) on whether one parent should stay at home whilst the other works, or both should work, or both should stay at home. Mon 22 Sep 2008 13:49:45 GMT+1 Inchy For the past 16 years my family has struggled to finance a stay at home mum.It was a deliberate decision and I have never really moaned about that (what's the point of having kids if you then avoid them by working?). So, after paying NI for ten years my wife gave up her salary (and subsidised mortgage), without a penny assistance from the state.Since then we have 3 had children. Unfortunately, I have a reasonably decent salary (just in the higher tax threshold) but we have not inherited any money or property and basically started from scratch financially. My salary means that we're considered affluent so our tax relief for the kids is minimal and we qualify for no benefits. The child allowance either goes into savings for the younger ones (university savings - we do not anticipate any grants or assistance for them), or as allowance to the elder (who buys his own clothes etc.). We are decent at handling money and manage a very tight budget. Even so we cannot afford holidays, we don't have sky, we don't go out for meals (or to drink) and drink in moderation at home (no smoking of course).We break even, just about (we shop for everything cheaply).We have never been able to afford saving.Faced with this sort of financial future, I fail to see how any family would chose (or can even afford) to have a stay at home parent, unless they are rich enough not to care, or poor enough to be paid for. I think that to afford a stay at home parent the taxation model needs to change, and without this sort of incetive it's highly unlikely the numbers of single income families will change.Two things, I think are applicable.First a family should be taxed as a single unit. Each member of the family receives a tax allowance, and all incomes are combined to decide on the taxation. In my case this would mean that all of the tax I currently enjoy paying in the higher tax bracket would be offset by my wifes allowance and so not be taxable (same as if we were both working for half my salary).Second, you should be able to offset mortgage interest against your salary for tax purposes (up to 2* annual salary). So if you pay £400 per month in interest to the bank/building society, you should be able to claim the £100 tax back on that payment.Those two measures would have given us personally £200 extra per month in the hand (Ye Gods, we would be able to go on holidays!) and make it financially possible for others to have stay at home parents. Mon 22 Sep 2008 13:05:35 GMT+1 thehappyfamilygirl Soviet style day care for two year olds in 10 years time? Who is this supposed to appeal to? Is there anybody who thinks this is desirable? Why is the government still working to some 1970s agenda - don't they realise the world has moved on ? David Cameron's proposal to help a parent stay at home in the early years is far better Mon 22 Sep 2008 13:01:51 GMT+1 alias1689 Some connected thoughts...Do we need more mums at work? This gov't seems to think so. They're dedicated to it. Costly incentives are available so that dual-income parents can live out the materialistic dream the media says we must.Problem is: we are having less kids. The career and family juggle is proving too much!But this is an socio-economic time-bomb...2.1 kids per woman = the population replenishment rate. Scotland is currently at 1.2. Should this continue for another 50 years, Scotland halves its population!But in 50 years I will want a population to push me around in a bathchair, nurse me, doctor me and get me food. Who will do that? Gordon Brown? Scotland will no longer be Scottish. Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:49:09 GMT+1 jez We're in an odd position where unless my wife goes to work 100% full time, its not economically viable or beneficial for our lifestyle for her to go back at all. Frankly, its worth more to us for our son to have a full time parent at home - and I'd be just as happy for it to be me if my wife had a career to go back to, rather than 'just' having done temping work since leaving uni. Better that than for our son to only see us at all during the week for half an hour in the morning and evening just after and before going to bed and us not even benefitting from it financially. In fact, we'd probably be slightly worse off. You can only claim credits towards nursery if both of you work 24hrs plus per week, and nursery is so expensive (£150 plus per week) that unless she went back for 37hrs plus she'd be working purely to 'break even' on nursery costs. Even if we got lucky and she got a well paid job, so that we benefitted financially from my wife working, we'd suffer for us both being exhausted all the time from work. Oh, and we'd also have to get a second car to make sure we could each get to work on time as well as dropping the boy off at the nursery so with the extra insurance, road tax, fuel and maintenance I'm pretty sure we'd never be able to manage. At least now, while its hardly relaxing for her to look after house and child during the day, when I get home she can take a break while I look after our son which just allows her to refresh a little bit before bed time. For many families however I believe the decline in 'stay at home' parents is down to two things (one of which will be extremely unpopular, but since I think its the truth I don't much care about that):1. Living costs, especially food and energy (the two things that having kids really increases massively anyway) are rising. Therefore two incomes are required. Nursery is very expensive and so even with tax credits etc if you don't both have professional careers one of you probably has to work very long hours to make up the shortfall.2. The feminist movement convinced women that they could, and more relevantly to the point under discussion, *should* have it all. Its simply not true, but the drive for women to have jobs AND still run families meant that there is now a much larger workforce. Consequently, wages per head have come down in proportion to the cost of living, housing, etc. When it was just men who went to work this ratio was much larger and what's more most employers actually gave you a pay rise when you got married or had children. Therefore one income was enough. Now, if you don't both work, the majority of people can't manage. This is not, I hasten to add, the fault of women. I'm not claiming 'you did it to yourselves' or saying that the feminist 'revolution' wasn't justified or needed - it was. Its still true however that before the feminist movement, this was not an issue, and it may be worth admitting that the two are linked without getting hysterical about it. I personally don't have a problem with women working or women not working - I was raised by a single working mum, the entire team of people I work with are women, the majority of my bosses have always been women (so I'm not sure where all this glass ceiling stuff comes in, may be its because I've always worked in the public service). I do think however that until school age it is good for children to have a parent at home - and it shouldn't matter whether its the mum or the dad. Its also good for children to go to nursery, but I'm not so sure its good for them to be there five days a week from 6 months old which is often what happens now. Personally, I'd like to see 1 free day a week for all children from 6 months to 18 months, 2 days a week for 18 months to 3 years old, and then 3 days a week until they go to school. That would allow parents to manage to juggle jobs and home more easily and actually encourage stay at home parents to go back to work without effectively abandoning their children to nurseries full time from a very young age. I'd like to see this paid for by scrapping means tested tax credits (because the means testing of salary bands is a nonsense the way its done presently) and simply lowering the tax rate instead - but not with any special rate for parents. Why should the single and childless have to pay for my child? I didn't understand that when I was a non-parent and I still don't understand it now I have a child. I get that the whole country benefits from everyone chipping in to pay for the schools system, but I fail to see why the childless should pay for the massive tax credit system aimed at parents. This, as far as my inexpert brain can tell, removes the massive administration costs involved in taxing people with one hand to then assess claims and give them money back with another, as well as removing the huge amount of money spent investigating tax credit fraud... because there wouldn't be any. And bring back the married/civil partnership allowance, to reward people for staying in stable relationships as this encourages family life by making financially worth it to stay together - whether they have children or not. Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:45:44 GMT+1 dgl3sjm My wife doesn't work, but she doesn't class herself as economically inactive on the census form. She looks after the kids full-time, but works evenings and flexibly on a number of small business projects. Here income is not large, but enough to make it worthwhile and necessary for our household budget.From what I see of her fulltime Mum friends this is very common, so how much of this are we seeing in this map? Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:43:27 GMT+1 cookupnorth I can think of two potential explanations for the changes in the urban areas you've highlighted:Firstly the likes of Leicester and Bradford (where I live) have significant populations of asian origin. Might it be that in these communities the values are different and it is more common for women not to go out to work and/or stay at home when they have children?Secondly the urban areas tend to be where the higher paid jobs are and speaking from my own experience with my family (and my white middle-class educated background) my wife and I chose that she would give up work when we had our first child 16 months ago. It's been an adjustment because it effectively cut our income in two and we had to learn to be less financially independent of each other (but at the same time have become closer and more trusting of each other). We are able to do it because we both had higher than average paid jobs in Leeds/York so we could make that choice. Clearly not everyone is in such a lucky position to have the choice but there are also plenty that don't beleive they have the choice! It doesn't seem like a common choice in our peer group as most tend to beleive that they can't afford not to both work full time - true perhaps if you can't do without the foreign holidays, Ipods and other 'things' (but that's a choice not a need) but for us some things are more important than money and what it can buy you... Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:42:47 GMT+1 PaulAtkin We are financially better off because one of us stays at home to look after the family.As the "career" parent I am a much more flexible worker: I can stay late, take extended business trips, come in at the weekend if necessary.Over the years this has meant that I have been promoted and built up a career which earns a better salary for our family. At the same time my daughter benefits from a full time mum at home. Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:38:57 GMT+1 leafartist Do both parents really have to work, or is it harder for them to invest time and effort in their kids? We can pay through the nose to go places where our kids play while we sip coffee and gossip, or we can go to parks, beaches, the countryside to play together with them. Do we really need every new gadget that comes along? Do we need the smartest car? I know that there are cases where both parents work just to cover the mortgage and living expenses, but through my work I also see many families where both parents work just to enjoy many extras that could well be thought frivolous. Is the government encouraging somewhat tin-plated values? I loved the time I spent at home with my children. Will parents who work live to regret losing such precious time? Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:32:41 GMT+1 Rosalindissima To square work and children we need changes in the way we work such as this BBC article discusses changes in attitudes so that people like 'efrancis' 's partner (above) are not penalised for taking their child rearing responsibilities. I suppose we just need to collectively get with the programme! A great many normal humans procreate and and find significant happiness and reward in doing so - we shouldn't find it so terribly hard to accommodate that.... Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:31:47 GMT+1 ickle-baby-emily I think its right for parents to have more choices, but the government seems to be focussing on making it easier for parents to work. I'd like to see the same effort being made to make it easier for a parent to stay at home.I think the future consequences of most kids being at nursery full time from two years old could be pretty big. Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:27:17 GMT+1 Lazarus More statistics eh, Mark?Don't worry, I'm sure they tell the full story. Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:24:16 GMT+1 Rosalindissima Well, what's really interesting about providing more childcare and varying proportions of 'other' economically inactive is the gender equality dimension of it. It's a shame your blog hasn't commented on this dimension; just causally bemoans the decline of the stay at home mum in the heading. I'd like to see more critical journalism than this. For example, one of the implications of fewer women staying home to look after their children is that women have greater financial independence than they used to. This puts them in a much more autonomous position (more similar to the autonomous position traditionally enjoyed by men) than devoting time to unpaid child rearing can.Nowadays couples, not just mothers, are having to think how they'll square child rearing with working. Isn't it terribly sad to realise that our working practices push some of us to decide between having a family (the very thing humans want to do!!) and furthering ourselves through work. Or force us to neglect our families. What a silly trade off!? Seems like something will need to change in the way we [all] work...... Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:22:40 GMT+1 bluest-man What does amuse/concern/irritate me about politics so often is the obscene amount of time effort and money spent trying to buy votes of these 8 million people. (4.1 x 2 minus a few)Don't our political masters recognise they are in general a low turn out group?That they fit into other groups, Car owners? High wage earners? Holiday takers?If they stopped this investment in depriving children of parental contact time and reduced the taxes to allow more parents to bring up their children we might not have the problems with "Yoof" we see today. Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:04:57 GMT+1 efrancis My husband has just had to leave work to become a full time stay at home Dad due to the costs of childcare and the fact that we need someone 100% reliable - you can't get this as people are going to be ill etc! I work in a male environment (I would be soon considered to be an issue if I had to work from home on more than 1 occasion every couple of months due to childcare problems) and am the higher earner. He worked in construction and really could not take days off and also wasn't paid if he didn't turn in.Our issue is what happens when both our children are at school and my husband has been out of the job market for 5 yrs and is 45 yrs old...................Doing the right and best thing now may cause problems later! Mon 22 Sep 2008 12:01:45 GMT+1 treale The Pound has been weakened over the years so that both parents need to work simply in order to have an average life. Parents are either over worked or have to incur extra expenses out of their tax paid earnings to do jobs they would do themselves if they had the time. Mon 22 Sep 2008 11:58:30 GMT+1 realityleak I know that this is an old fashioned view but I believe that one parent should be able ot stay at home. I am definitely not being gender specific here; either a man or a woman is equally capable of staying home and looking after kids and the house.Is it part of the problem that inflation has rocketed prces far more quickly than wages have increased, thereby ending the ability of a parent to stay at home and take care of their domestic life?Is part of the problem also that most parent's with kids between 5 and, say, 12 have to leave them in after school clubs to be taken care of by other people when, back in the early 80s when I was growing up, such things were almost unheard of.Finally, can the issue of both parents NEEDING to work for most families to be able to survive be contributing to socio-economic downward pressures?I would be interested to hear others' views. Mon 22 Sep 2008 11:57:07 GMT+1 WhiteEnglishProud Most familys need to working adults to survive in the UK today. I would have thought this would have been more extreme in large Cities but evidently not strange! Mon 22 Sep 2008 11:24:55 GMT+1