Coffee House

Cameron readies childcare package

6 January 2013

1:57 PM

6 January 2013

1:57 PM

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will launch the coalition’s mid-term review tomorrow. There will be some announcements in it. But I understand that some of the most interesting, new coalition policies are being held out from it. The government wants to keep some of its powder back for later.

There are also some final details to be worked out in certain areas. I’m informed that there’ll be a Quad on childcare this week. The coalition is close to agreement on a package which, as I say in the Mail on Sunday, would see working mothers receive thousands of pounds of help with childcare costs for the under fives. This will follow on from moves to liberalise the sector which will be announced in the next week or so.


In private, Cameron calls affordable, quality childcare the ‘Holy Grail’ of British politics. He knows that this would ease the squeeze on family budgets, help those parents who want to go back to work and send a potent message that the Conservatives are on the side of working mothers. At the moment, there is little financial incentive for those earning less than £40,000 to return to their jobs in the first few years after they have given birth.

The precise working of scheme is still being thrashed out. Some are pushing for a third of the cost of childcare to be tax deductible (see Sunday Times report), others are arguing for a voucher-style system that would be simple to administer—and, arguably, fairer—as it would be worth the same regardless of income. Interestingly, this policy will make up for the loss of child benefit in the case of higher income families where both parents work. I wonder what stay-at-home mothers will make of this.

At the moment, the favoured model would see working mothers receive a fixed amount of the £9,000 a year cost of childcare for someone under five. A working mother with two children under five could be as much as £5,000 a year better off under this scheme.

In Number 10, this policy is being treated as a ‘personal priority of the Prime Minister’ — meaning it is unlikely to get caught in the system. In a sign of the political importance attached to it, I understand that his senior advisers are pushing for Cameron to announce these changes himself in a speech later this month.

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Show comments
  • Wilhelm


  • Wilhelm


  • Wilhelm


  • Alex

    “At the moment, there is little financial incentive for those earning less than £40,000 to return to their jobs in the first few years after they have given birth.”

    Blimey, you mean we have a tax & benefits system that encourages parents to spend time with their young children? We can’t allow that, can we. Much better to throw billions of pounds of taxpayers money to pay parents to farm their toddlers out to other people. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Carl

    I have been working all my life and I have paid my tax an NI , I think I deserve some help with child care , other people that can’t be bothered to work get everything paid for why should the worker get nothing and the “I can’t be bothered to work” get everything !!!!!!

  • TomTom

    “At the moment, the favoured model would see working mothers receive a
    fixed amount of the £9,000 a year cost of childcare for someone under

    Funny how that figure matches Tuition Fees….

  • barbie

    So we’re all in for another long lecture tomorrow, first Cameron then the boring Clegg. It won’t consist of any surprises, but the same garbage we’ve had for the last few weeks, and when Clegg opens his mouth it gets worse. My TV will be switched off tomorrow till its all clear, I’m in no mood to listen to more lectures from these two.

  • Noa

    A personal priority for the PM?

    Without the child benefit cock-up it would not have required any priority or fanfare at all..

  • Davey12

    Put tax threasholds up to 25K, including NI.
    Scrap all these credits and tax deductions and other nonsense that just mess everything up.

  • Sally Chatterjee

    “A personal priority of the Prime Minister” I fear this means he’ll give a heavily trailed speech and then the scheme will sunk into the quicksand of Whitehall refusal, never to be heard of until the 2015 manifesto is published.

    Plus you wonder about doling out money to mothers. Is this Conservative or statist, electoral or efficient?

  • alexsandr

    Once again subsidising those with kids. Why cant those with kids pay their own childcare etc instead of lumbering the rest of us with it. If you cant afford it don’t have kids.

    • Carl

      So unless ur wealthy u shouldn’t have kids

      • daniel maris

        Financial support for having chidlren should be related to (a) being a UK citizen and (b) having first worked and contributed through taxes for a substantial period e.g. years.

        Why is this government continuing to promote teenage and single parent pregnancies?

    • Ian Walker

      Kids are good for the country. Unlike childless old people, who from a purely economic point of view should be ritually slaughtered once they cease being productive.

  • George_Arseborne

    Another Relaunch again? How many are we going to get this year from JEDWARDS?

  • Noa

    So what working mothers pay in tax they get back, plus some, in tax credits or cash.

    Here’s an unfashionable old (conservative) idea, give these mothers a £9k per annum tax allowance so they get to keep the money they’ve earned in the first place and without it circulating through the middleman comedy duo of Kerslake and Heywood, whose New Year message you may have missed.

  • AnotherDaveB

    “At the moment, the favoured model would see working mothers receive a fixed amount of the £9,000 a year cost of childcare for someone under five. ”

    I thought HMG was supposed to be reducing government spending?

    • Archimedes

      More people working means higher levels of output, which means lower transfers.

      • AnotherDaveB

        If they convert the existing child tax credit, and child benefit into a non-refundable (HMRC doesn’t sent you a cheque) child tax allowance, you’d get the same effect.

    • telemachus

      This nonsense is all Desperate Dave and Nattering Nick after the squeezed middle that they have lost
      Heed the Charismatic One and build for growth and forget this shower

  • JohnTar

    Running scared, Dave? New policies on the boil to entrap the female voter? They’re not THAT gullible! So, run-rabbit-run, the “seven years” of added joy for you looks like seven years more of misery for us. Hopefully, our misery will only last another two years, maybe even less if we’re very fortunate…

    • Fergus Pickering

      And then Labour. Ah joy! Back to Broon and Blair Mark 2 spending all our money. I can hardly wait.

      • Noa


        Please consider:
        Are you actually paying less tax since David Cameron became PM?

        Has your contingent liability as a taxpayer the national debt decreased since 2010?
        If the answer to these questions is No, what then has the Cameron led Coalition achieved?

      • TomTom

        Brown MkII = Osborne

    • barbie

      The truth is this nation is fed up with the lot of them. The lies, the waffle, and silly policies from Clegg and his loony Lib Dems. Our best bet is to vote for UKIP and rid ourselves of the lot of them once and for all. Lets have a change and begin again. At least Farage is honest and say it as it is, he gets my vote.

      • Dimoto

        Farage is honest ??
        What a nice, trusting person you must be.

  • Joe Ashley

    Could be deal for boundary changes