Anthony Hilton: The Government could easily put women on top if it really wanted to

If the Government wants more women in senior positions, the solution is in its hands

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The Independent Online

The week kicked off with another depressing survey which showed how male-dominated are most of the centres of power, business and influence in the UK, followed by much predictable hand-wringing about how we needed to try harder.

Changing things would be the simplest of tasks for the Government if it had the will to do it. Time and again one meets well-qualified women who have not pursued their careers because they could not afford to after they had more than one child. Childcare for the first infant was just about affordable, but thereafter they were prohibitive and made the second salary uneconomic. It was costing them to go out to work on top of all the other pressure.

If the Government really wants more women in senior positions the solution is in its hands. First it should follow the example of Denmark and other Scandinavian countries and expand the availability of pre-school nurseries.

Second, government should allow the cost of childcare to be tax deductible, so the financial burden can be offset against the income earned.

Indeed, the principle of tax deductibility should not stop at childcare. We have an army of unemployed with limited skills who are always going to struggle to find work.

It would therefore make sense to encourage those with money to employ people to help them, and the way to do this would be to make it possible to offset the wages of all domestic employees against the personal tax of the employer. Not only would this reduce the cost of employing cleaners, gardeners, housekeepers and drivers, it would also deal a huge blow to the black economy because there would be a positive reason not to pay such people in cash and instead bring them into proper, legitimate employment.

It won't happen though.For some reason rooted in our ideas of class structure and fairness it is good to encourage a one-person, small business to take on an extra worker, but politically toxic to encourage private individuals to do likewise.