Childcare vouchers U-turn was wrong

Gordon Brown has decided to retreat on the childcare tax vouchers decision. A concerted effot by the 70,000 online petitioners, and Progress, all expressing concern about something the latter considered to be one of Labour’s greatest moves. But it all came down to Brown being told that the move to scrap the childcare vouchers could lose votes. Where have our bollocks gone?

Brown’s intention was to scrap the relief as it was badly directed. Arguably true, it saves parents £2,400 a year on nurseries, nannies or childminders whether or not they are in high or basic tax paying brackets. If this is a system of welfare, to try and level out the gap in wealth and the state of services received by all in society, then why should high rate taxpayers enjoy tax breaks when that money would be better spent on making services widely available.

But, however, Progress showed that 74% of those (340,000 parents) who were eligible for the vouchers were basic-rate taxpayers. Certainly something to consider when working out how the voucher system fares with trying to level out quality of services, with budgets in mind.

Progress also said, on account of their results, that the voucher system is not “a middle class perk”. To reiterate, it is not a middle class perk because 74% of its beneficiaries are basic-rate taxpayers. Out of that remaining 26% many will be high-rate tax payers. So, as a result – and to modify slightly what Progress have said – it is only a middle class perk when it is a middle class perk, which it is for middle class people. Slightly confusing right? No, not really. The voucher system for all, securing tax relief is not itself a middle class perk because there are working class beneficiaries, but it is a middle class perk for those middle class people who enjoy the benefits of it. What this means is that middle class people enjoy more benefits from it – not only getting vouchers rewarding them, being high earners, and paying the same as basic rate tax payers for the those services the vouchers are set up to provide money off for.

Call me controversial, but, providing there was some transparency as to prove that the money was being used to make nurseries, nannies etc more affordable, I prefer the idea of scrapping the vouchers.

Brown wouldn’t lose more votes on it if the reason why he was getting rid of the vouchers was widely publicised. I wonder how many of those 70,000 signatories heard voucher cuts and acted without any further ado. I don;t blame them for this, I blame certain taglines:

Ending childcare vouchers will stop many families from working

Controversy grows over plan to axe tax aid on childcare vouchers

and the best one


Nothing in any way to suggest that the voucher scheme may well have been badly directed, and that the 250,000 planned free nursery places will have to be put back to 2015 now.


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