Sunday, 4 August 2013

Childcare Vouchers for the Rich.. While "HardWorking Families" Suffer

Apologies for the title of this piece, but feel I really do need to use Cameron and the Tories mantra phrase "Hard Working Families". However I am using the phrase in its pure form. Hard Working Families like me and you.. Single parent families, Two couple families where only 1 is able to work, Families whose heads may be unemployed or on zero contract hours, families where the head of the family is looking after a disabled or elderly relative. All of them are "Hard Working". All of them are deserving of a better deal than what the Tories are currently dishing out.

Cameron needs sweeteners for his Middle Class Tory Voters. These are his "squeezed middle" feeling the pinch on the private school fees, not booking 2 foreign holidays this year, perhaps putting off the house redecoration if they are really pushed. Sorry to appear a bit sarcastic to the Middle Classes, but frankly they are not feeling the onslaught of Cameron's policies quite the same way as those who are disabled, those on 10-20k, or Carers looking after disabled relatives on their paltry £59 per week Carers Allowance. The sacrifice of the middle classes simply is NOT the sacrifice of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

So here comes the Tories latest sweetener - to curb the edge of any possible revolt from traditional Tory Voters in the leafy suburbs and countryside. It comes in the form of a £1200 per child voucher towards childcare costs. BUT the caveat is that you only get this help in a family where 2 partners work. Yes both partners can earn £150k each and have a combined income of £300k and receive this help, yet if you are a single earner in a couple on £20k you get nothing, £0, zilch, nought.

There are catches as you would expect from the Tories. The scheme is open to those with children aged up to 5 only. There are plans to expand the age range but these are vague. The scheme is open only to those whose employers are part of the scheme.

The Tories have increased the amount of children per staff ratio in order to increase the affordability of childcare.. So they say. In reality the quality of childcare will suffer as staff will be pushed attending to their charges in increased ratios.

Childcare experts and leading charities have condemned the scheme. All say that low income, single earner families who need the most help are the very ones who will be missing out. Nothing new there as with all ConDem policies, the poor lose out significantly more than the rich.

Everyone knows that those low income families have already lost significant amounts of money through the loss of tax credits, especially where there are 2 children. tax Credits have also been lost in couples where one partner worked 16 hours. In order to be eligible for tax credits the Tories, in an era of unprecedented austerity increased these hours to 24 for entitlement to tax credits.

So while the couple - high fliers on their combined £300k - look forward to perhaps employing a nanny with their vouchers, single earners in a couple look forward to a continued struggle with childcare.

And nothing has been said yet again about either the scant provision of childcare for children with special needs or a financial help like the scheme above for parents desperate for help with their special needs child. These children and their families are the most ignored group by a Government whose own Prime Minister was supposed to have an in depth knowledge and sympathy due to his own life experience in caring for a disabled child. Yet again these parents are left to manage and struggle on their own when they are the ones in need of the most help.

But this Government are not labelled ConDem for nothing are they?