Right of Reply: Dawn Primarolo

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The Independent Culture
The Paymaster General answers a recent article by Natasha Walter on working mothers

NATASHA WALTER ("Women on the verge of breakdown") suggests that the Government is ignoring the plight of parents who are out of work, particularly those with young children for whom choices are not easy. This is simply not the case.

We recognise that there are complex reasons why parents are unable to take paid work at particular times. We took action in the Budget to substantially increase child benefit and income-related benefits for children under 11. This clearly shows the Government's commitment to fighting child poverty.

This Government is also delivering for parents who want to work but for whom work simply would not pay under the old system. By targeting tax cuts at those who need them most and introducing the working families tax credit (WFTC) to replace the outdated family credit, the Government is providing real help for people whose needs have been denied in the past. For example, a lone parent earning pounds 85 a week, working more than 16 hours and with a young child will receive WFTC: an extra pounds 86.55 to supplement her wages through the WFTC and the more generous child benefit.

We are also tackling the financial uncertainty felt by many lone parents thinking about moving from welfare to work by allowing them to continue to receive income support payments for two weeks after they move into work.

We also recognise that, with many couples, both parents want to work, so the WFTC will provide more generous help with childcare and tackle the situation where many second earners would have lost over 70 pence of every extra pound they earned in tax.

So we are working to ensure every child and parent is given real opportunity.