Boost for working parents

PARENTS on low incomes will receive extra financial assistance to encourage them to go back to work, new Government plans reveal.

Parents working less than 16 hours a week will be entitled to childcare support under changes which will be introduced from 2013.

Previously only parents working over 16 hours have been able to claim up to 70% of their childcare costs under the childcare tax credit system, which is being replaced with universal credit in an effort to simplify the welfare system.

The move could give families as much as £175 a week for one-child households and up to £300 a week for homes with two children to spend on childcare.

However, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said the move, while being especially useful for women looking to get back into work, would do nothing to help full-time families who were hit hard by the changes to child and family benefits introduced earlier this year.

Ms Nandy said: “It’s obviously good news that the government have found some money to help families who work less than 16 hours a week, but the amount is almost exactly the same as the money they took away from families who work full time in April.

“It’s a transfer of resources from full time to part time families.

“It will help, particularly for women as mums often look to get back into work on a part-time basis, but a lot of families in Wigan are working long hours and they are really struggling with the costs of childcare, and this will do nothing for them at all.

“There’s also the uncertain future for Sure Start centres, which for a lot of people in Wigan are critical for making sure they can go back to work.

“We should be able to help both part time and full time families, it shouldn’t be a case of either or. If you’re trying to do the right thing for your family you shouldn’t be penalised by the number of hours you work.”

The latest population figures compiled by the Office of National Statistics show that for 2010 there were 46,600 people economically inactive in Wigan, with 35,200 of those not wanting or looking for a job.

There were 22,800 women not wanting to get a job in the town, and 12,400 men.

The statistics also indicated there were 30,600 part-time jobs in Wigan.

Wigan nurseries backed the move to get more parents working and welcomed the broadening of childcare support.

Barbara Rawson, manager of Kids.com Private Day Nursery on Throstlenest Avenue, said: “If parents get funding to bring them it’s a good idea, as it benefits all the children. It will definitely help families on low incomes. It’s good for children to be at nursery mixing with other children their own age rather than being at home all the time.”