As the Conservative government continues to emphasise the value of paying taxes over motherhood, the United Kingdom’s finance chief unveiled plans to encourage over a million more women to enter the workforce.
Jeremy Hunt unveiled new measures to encourage women to forego raising their own children in favour of working in his Spring Budget, which was announced in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The government will fund up to 30 hours per week of free childcare for children under the age of three — as young as nine months — for parents earning less than £100,000 per year, according to Hunt. At present, only parents with children between the ages of three and four are eligible for the programme.
To assist with this, the government will provide funds to local governments to support “wraparound childcare” schemes at schools, which could result in children staying in school from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Corporate interests, including the Confederation of British Industry, have long advocated for expanding government-funded childcare services, claiming that while it may cost the taxpayer several billion pounds up front, the move could generate up to £10 billion in future revenue by allowing more parents to work.
Speaking at the Commons, Chancellor Hunt said: “We have one of the most expensive [childcare] systems in the world. Almost half of non-working mothers said they would prefer to work if they could arrange suitable childcare.
“For many women, a career break becomes a career end. Our female participation rate is higher than average for OECD economies, but we trail top performers like Denmark and the Netherlands. If we matched Dutch levels of participation, there would be more than one million more women who want to work, in the labour force. And we can.”
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel described a group of stay-at-home mothers in 2020 as “economically inactive” and suggested they leave the house for a job.