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The election is over so what are the implications for childcare and jobs?
Based on their manifesto, a Conservative majority will mean that the number of free hours for childcare for three and four year olds will double to 30 a week, but it seems this will only apply to families where both parents are working. A childcare tax rebate of up to £2,000 a year will come in in the autumn which will benefit those earning less than £150,000 a year with those who are able to pay for the most childcare getting the greatest discounts. Again, it will apply only to households where both parents are working. It will, however, enable all parents to get money off registered childcare rather than just those who are eligible for childcare vouchers.
Those eligible for universal credit will get 85% of their childcare paid through that. However, the Conservatives have pledged to make £12 billion in welfare savings and they have not yet made clear where this money will come from, for instance, how it might affect tax credits which are being rolled up into universal credit.
In the last Parliament the government voted through a £120 billion a year cap on welfare spending and a leaked 2014 paper from the Department for Work and Pensions published in The Guardian earlier this week suggested that to stop this being breached, the government may have to make big savings. The paper outlined where the money could come from. Suggestions included scrapping SMP or making employers pay more towards it, limiting child benefit to a certain number of children, raising the bedroom tax, cutting sick pay, freezing benefits and making single parents on income support start looking for jobs when their children are three, rather than five.
The Conservatives have said jobs are its priority for lifting people out of poverty. In January David Cameron said 1,000 jobs had been created every day his government had been in office. The latest unemployment figure is 5.6%, with the rate for women being the highest since records began and the number of full-time roles being created increasing at a faster rate than part-time roles.
Job creation was also David Cameron’s answer to the question of food banks. However, the Trussell Trust says many of those accessing food banks are in work. They also include single parents who have had their benefits sanctioned because advisers are not aware of the need for flexibility around the jobs they are expected to apply for due to childcare issues. The Conservatives have also pledged that no-one on the Minimum Wage who works 30 hours a week will pay any income tax on their wages. This chimes with its pledge to raise the personal tax-free allowance to £12,500. The Conservatives have also pledged that the 40p tax rate will not affect workers until they are earning £50,000.