Mothers who give up paid work to bring up their children have made a “lifestyle choice”, the Chancellor George Osborne said yesterday, as he defended plans to introduce a tax break for families with two working parents.
Tax-free childcare vouchers worth up to £1,200 a year will be available to parents with individual incomes of up to £150,000, which means that a household with a combined income of £300,000 could qualify.
By contrast, child benefit has been axed for any family in which one partner earns £60,000 or more.
Mr Osborne, who visited a nursery yesterday to launch the public consultation on his plans, claimed that the “vast majority” of couples who would benefit are in the middle or lower income brackets.
He told Radio 4’s World at One programme: “I have huge regard for mothers who want to stay at home and look after their children, that’s their lifestyle choice.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, which represents childcare providers, said: “To offer this money to a couple whose dual earnings could reach £300,000, but not to a couple earning a fraction of this amount who choose to have one parent stay at home, seems perverse.
“We would prefer the Government to properly fund universal childcare provision for all families.”