Daily Mail

Value stay-at-home mothers, say Tories

- By Deputy Political Editor

MOTHERS should be more valued in society rather than forced to return to work, Tory MPs warned yesterday.

After Jeremy Hunt announced a major extension of free childcare, backbenche­rs branded the extra support as a ‘socialist’ attempt to solve problems with tax rises.

The Chancellor used Wednesday’s Budget to extend the 30 hours a week of paid-for care.

But Miriam Cates, Conservati­ve MP for Penistone and Stocksbrid­ge, was ‘concerned’ by the announceme­nt, fearing the Treasury had ‘misunderst­ood the problem’.

She said it was ‘wrong to assume that the cost of childcare is the primary factor preventing women from returning to work’ as only around ‘40 per cent of eligible parents’ access the existing entitlemen­t.

Ms Cates said: ‘Fundamenta­lly, the belief behind offering workdepend­ent, state-funded childcare to all babies is that mothers are more valuable to society in the workplace than looking after their own children. As a Conservati­ve I reject this and as a mother I know it to be untrue.’ Writing in The Daily Telegraph, she said women should be given a choice about returning to work ‘based on what is best for each family, not based on economic necessity or on a mistaken understand­ing that a person’s value derives principall­y from their contributi­on to GDP’.

Her remarks were echoed by former Cabinet minister George Eustice, who said that it was a ‘sorry state of affairs’ that society ‘does not value motherhood more than it does’.

In the Commons yesterday, he cited a poll showing only 50 per cent of mothers would return to work if they could afford it.

There have also been calls for Britain to introduce a household based income tax system, similar to that in Germany, which would allow parents to transfer their tax-free allowances to each other to make it more affordable for one to stay at home to look after children.

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