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27 Mar 2013

My motion: Maternity Pay and family cuts


Last night I presented my first motion to council, seconded by Cllr Kelly Edwards. The opposition were not happy about it but, when you look at the list of cuts they've imposed of mothers and families, you can hardly be surprised!  They tried to dismiss the very real concerns of families in Reading; the concerns of people I have spoken to who bring home very little after paying childcare, who cannot take a full years maternity leave because they can't afford to andthe families struggling on a day to day basis.

I have heard that people have been queuing out of the Welfare Rights office because so many people need help and support with the onslaught of cuts.  With food and energy bills rising, I wonder where the Government think people are going to get the extra money from to make up the shortfall!  But lets not forget that on Monday 1 April the Tory Lib Dem Government will be giving a tax break to millionaires.

Cllr Daisy Benson claimed that no-one had contacted her about these cuts.  That's not the experience Labour Cllrs have had but then again, she is part of the party making them!

When you look at what we were asking the council to do their oppositions seems even more mean.  In the end we passed the motion (amended to add paragraph 2 post Budget my Cllr Matt Rodda).  Reading Labour see ourselves as a Council in opposition to this Government and the only people standing up for families in Reading.


Mums not Millionaires!

Motion Maternity Pay and family cuts

That this council notes that:

From April this year Government will restrict Statutory Maternity Pay to a 1 per cent annual increase, which by 2015 will effectively be a £180 tax on working women, coming on top of a series of additional cuts being faced by new mums including

a) The end of the £190 health in pregnancy grant

b) The end of the £250 Child Trust Fund Voucher

c) Child benefit payments frozen for three years followed by a 1 percent increase for 2014 and 2015

d) Restriction of the Sure Start Maternity Grant

e) Removing the baby addition to the Child Tax Credit

f) Cuts to the subsidy for childcare through the working tax credit

and that low-paid mums will be losing a total of £1722 during pregnancy and the baby’s first year

2. Notes that of those families who will benefit from the Government’s new childcare vouchers in 2015, 80% are in the top 40% of the income distribution, and only 2% are in the bottom 40% of the income distribution, so the measure will have minimal effect on children in poverty, and that the Child Poverty Action Group estimates that there are 3.6 Million children living in poverty in the UK today, and that under current Government policies this will reach 3.9 Million by 2015 and 4.2 Million by 2020 (amendment)

3. That as well as these reductions in income, the Government proposes in the Children & Families Bill to remove the statutory duty on local authorities to ensure a sufficiency of childcare, and that any reduction in affordable childcare will mean that more women will find they can’t make work pay

Council therefore resolves to:

Mandate the Managing Director to write to the Secretary of State outlining these concerns and requesting suspension of the coming cuts pending a full equality audit

Request that the Lead Cllr for Children’s Service write to Readings two MPs urging them to oppose cuts which negatively impact women and families

Asks the Council Managing Director to ensure that all families using Sure Start Centres and other early years settings have information available to them about these benefit changes and about what benefits and services they can still access

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