Letter: Gaps in the party manifestos

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The Independent Online
Sir: You suggest that the Conservative manifesto's proposal for transferable tax allowances would "endow women who stay at home" (leading article, 3 April).

The proposal endows not women who stay at home, but their tax-paying earning husbands. Research indicates that we cannot safely assume that the extra money the latter receive in their pay packets will be passed on to the former. Ironically, a proposal which reinforces the economic dependence of non-waged women upon their husbands is the centre-piece of a manifesto which aims "to replace the false security of dependence with the real security of independence". Of course it is public dependence on the state (in the form of cash benefits, not tax relief) that counts here, not private dependence within the family.

If the Conservatives are genuinely concerned to promote the economic independence of those at home providing care, they would do better to target the resources directly on those providing the care through improved cash benefits, such as child benefit and the invalid care allowance.

RUTH LISTER

Professor of Social Policy

Loughborough University

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