The primary purpose of Familienpflegezeit in Germany is not for general childcare ("More and more mums bring home the bacon", 4 August). Its target is to enable employees to reduce their working hours for up to two years to allow them to look after relatives – including children – with physical, mental or emotional illness or disability.
While about two-thirds of the 2.63 million benefiting from Pflegeversicherung (care insurance) are looked after by a combination of relatives and mobile care services, in 18 months there have been fewer than 200 applications for Familienpflegezeit. The anticipated take-up was 44,000. Not surprisingly, Kristina Schröder, the minister for families, who championed the legislation, is being criticised in the press.
Two reasons have been mooted for the scheme's failure. Firstly, that it isn't a legal right. Secondly, that despite the financial support afforded by the scheme, this still isn't enough to enable some to reduce their working hours. I am in favour of looking to other countries for ideas. However, it is also important to see how successful they are before they are modified for use in the UK.
As a childless single person, I don't agree with the IPPR think tank who want universal childcare provision. After all, people choose whether or not to give birth, and they shouldn't automatically be subsidised for doing so, especially if they are higher-rate taxpayers. To think otherwise is to discriminate against those like myself.
Any scheme that helps parents raise children while earning to support them is an investment for the country that will reap huge dividends. Such incentives, coupled with news last week of Britain's soaring birthrate, bring the promise of a new, tax-paying generation to bankroll the ever higher cost of maintaining an ageing population.
Joan Smith is right that all interests, good or bad, work more efficiently in packs or groups ("Twitter climbdown is too little, too late", 4 August). And some people are more brutal when hiding behind a pseudonym at the computer. But to say that all verbally abusive men could also be physically abusive or raping their partners at home is silly. Or should the state lock up every man who makes a negative remark about a woman?
There is no valid statistical data relating the increased death rate of cyclists to the failure to wear a cycling helmet ("Hats on for cyclists", 4 August). Nor is it of use in the event of an accident to observe whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet. The question is this: in how many accidents were there significant head injuries, and of those how many would have been less severe if a helmet had been worn? Would a helmet have saved the life of a cyclist struck by a vehicle 60 mph? I think not.
A third of road accidents involve two-wheeled vehicles and pedestrians. By the same twisted logic, pedestrians should also wear helmets too.
I have been a loyal reader of The Independent on Sunday and its sister papers for many years and consider them the best newspapers in Britain, despite their neglect for anything north of The Wash. However your reports on the football matches last Sunday were a disgraceful snub to those clubs and football supporters outside of London and the south of England. Not a mention of Wigan, Blackpool or Middlesbrough, and your headlines on the Brighton vs Leeds game featured Brighton, although Leeds were the victors. This is simply not fair coverage.
As long as women are forced by sport's ruling bodies to compete among themselves and not allowed to compete in men's sports they will be saddled with the feeling of being less able. Sex discrimination comes in many guises and the pervasive nature of this one only reinforces women's second-class status in sport.
Dunston, Newcastle upon Tyne
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