Childcare rebellion grows

88 MPs have signed an EDM opposing the Gov's plans to scrap Childcare Vouchers tax relief. But No. 10 say no parents currently using the scheme will be affected

Eighty-eight MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion opposing the Government’s plans to pay for extensions in free nursery provision by scrapping Childcare Vouchers tax relief.

No. 10 claim that no parents currently using the voucher scheme will be affected in the next five years because they are phasing out the tax relief on childcare vouchers so existing beneficiaries will not lose out. They also point out that employers will still be able to offer childcare vouchers to their workforce after the tax relief is phased out in April 2011.

But Jessica Asato, acting director of the Progress pressure group behind the campaign, wrote for Comment is Free this morning:

“four out of five have said that they probably won’t [continue to offer childcare vouchers]. Before the tax relief was introduced, only 8% of the companies who currently offer the childcare voucher did so – mainly big financial services companies with wealthier employees.”

Asato tells Left Foot Forward, “I’m getting emails and comments from working mothers who are distraught at what the loss of this benefit will mean their future ability to work and care for their children at the same time.”

Others concerned by the move include unions and childcare groups. The TUC’s Brendan Barber says “It would be wrong to pay for the new free places by cutting the support for the vouchers” while Alison Garnham, joint Chief Executive of Daycare Trust, calls the move “robbing Peter to pay Paul

Meanwhile, the Tories are giving mixed signals on the policy. Shadow family minister, Maria Miller, told the Scotsman:

“These are basic-rate taxpayers, working in areas such as the health sector and doing vital jobs. They rely on this support. Hard-working families will be left to pick up the pieces, and this has got to stop.”

But Personnel Today wrote last month that a Conservative spokesman “could not rule out a similar policy to scrap tax exemptions on childcare vouchers, stating that the party would have to ‘see what the costings are’.”

But the right-wing Reform think tank are clear about their views. They have made Gordon Brown their ‘Reformer of the Week’

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