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Thursday, 21 March 2013

This is equality?

I have never made any claim to be an economist!  Helping to manage our household finances is sufficient for me.  However, I sometimes wonder if it should not be a basic requirement for the high office of Chancellor of the Exchequer that (s)he be fully qualified in money management!

Yesterday's U.K. Budget announcement did contain some welcome news.  I am happy that the planned increase in fuel tax has been abandoned - although I would be even happier to see the price of diesel back below that of petrol (as it is in, as far as I can make out, the rest of Europe, if not the world!).  Saving 1p off a pint of beer isn't going to affect this teetotaller one iota - but I am sure that it made some others a little bit happier (and it did replace a planned 6p/pint increase!).

However, one announcement left me confused.  A couple who earn up to a combined total of £300,000 per year (yes, that is three hundred thousand!) will soon be entitled to as much as £1200/year to help with their nursery-care costs - to a maximum of £6,000.  Now, unless a working couple have the time, and stamina, to bring a child into the world every year for five consecutive years, no-one is going to be receiving that maximum.  However, if a couple are earning up to £150,000 each, surely they can afford to pay nursery costs without expecting me, as a pensioner, to subsidise them!

At the same time, families with one working parent earning more than £50,000 per year, will soon be losing their Child Benefit Allowance!

This new deal is, we are informed, in order to enable more mothers to go to work!  That raises some additional questions:
1.  Where, with unemployment at its current level, are most of them going to get a job?
2.  Is not the full-time care of children a 'job'?  Or is it only so if one is caring for other people's children as a "nice wee earner"!?
3.  Is not the best carer of children, in the vast majority of cases, their natural, biological, mother?

If this is Mr Osborne's idea of equality, then heaven help us all.  The present Coalition Government certainly won't!

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