Sunderland MP slams ‘unfair’ tax breaks for parents

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A WEARSIDE MP is among those who have hit out at ‘unfair’ proposals to give tax breaks to parents.

The Government’s plans to give tax breaks worth £1,200 per child to families where both parents work have come under fire for being unfair to single parents and stay-at-home mothers.

Chancellor George Osborne plays with Titas during a visit to a nursery in Hammersmith. During his visit Mr Osborne discussed the Government's proposed extension of a scheme providing 1,200 GBP of tax-free childcare vouchers to parents who stay at home because of caring commitments or those on maternity or paternity leave.

Chancellor George Osborne plays with Titas during a visit to a nursery in Hammersmith. During his visit Mr Osborne discussed the Government's proposed extension of a scheme providing 1,200 GBP of tax-free childcare vouchers to parents who stay at home because of caring commitments or those on maternity or paternity leave.

There has also been anger that high earners will be eligible for the scheme, while those on low household incomes could lose out.

Chancellor George Osborne has launched a consultation on the tax-free childcare voucher plans, which were heralded in the Budget in March.

They will offer support from 2015 to families where both parents work, but are being criticised as directing more help to well-off families than the poor.

The vouchers will be available to parents earning up to £150,000, so a couple with a combined income of £300,000 could claim them.

Sharon Hodgson MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

By contrast, child benefit cuts have hit families where one parent earns more than £50,000.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and shadow children’s minister, said: “Only David Cameron’s Government could be so out of touch that they expect families to be grateful for help with childcare in 2015 when they’ve already seen costs spiralling and support taken away.

“This Government has hit hard-working parents. Families with two children have already lost up to £1,500 in childcare tax credit.

“This Government promised to be the most family-friendly ever, but hard-working parents have lost out while millionaires get a tax cut.”

The new scheme will cover 20 per cent of working families’ childcare costs, meaning up to £1,200 could be claimed for each child. The average cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two in the UK is now more than £5,000 per year.

The Resolution Foundation thinktank, which campaigns for low-income workers, warned that the bulk of the money will not go to the poorest households, claiming just 160,000 families in the bottom 40 per cent of the income distribution will qualify for extra help, compared to 1.7 million in the top 40 per cent by income.

Extra details released by the government yesterday made it clear that parents who do not work because they are carers for a disabled relative will also be eligible, but not those who stay at home to bring up their children.

Mrs Hodgson will be holding a meeting on the issue of childcare costs at Pennywell Community Centre, Portsmouth Road, next Tuesday at 4pm.

It is open for all to attend and to register, email hodgsons@parliament.uk.