Posts Tagged ‘household budgets’

Labour needs to put families first. Here’s how.

01/11/2012, 07:00:33 AM

by Peter Watt

With years of austerity in prospect, the search is on for things to put on Labour’s famous blank piece of paper.  As health, welfare and education budgets come under pressure there is one institution above all others that a future Labour government should prioritise; the family.

The family is the best form of welfare there is from the cradle to the grave.  The family is a great place to provide a healthy environment for children and adults alike.   And a huge proportion of learning takes place in families as knowledge is passed literally from generation to generation.

Traditionally Labour family policy has focused on families who, for whatever reason, are down on their luck and who need some help with day-to-day essentials.  So the priority has been using the welfare state to target resources.  Free school meals, targeted benefits, Sure Start and so on.

But as Ed Miliband rightly points out, many other families with modest incomes have been offered little help and have been struggling.  So Labour should go into the next election with an unashamedly pro-family agenda that tries to make life a little easier for our millions of working families.  This doesn’t mean withdrawing support for some; it does though mean consciously prioritising the majority.  So here is a short list.  They should not cost much and some of them may seem small things.  Some will require us to possibly decide to stop doing something else and others may pay for themselves.  But collectively they will add up to a significant package of help.

Labour should introduce tax breaks for those with children.  It doesn’t have to be huge but as the cost of living goes up every little helps.  Increasing the tax free allowance for a nominated parent by £500 per child would make a significant difference to many household budgets.   And of course, the money would be spent by those who earned it boosting the economy.


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