The number of stay-at-home mothers in Britain has hit its lowest level on record as government policies make the tax system even harder on single-earner families, according to figures published on April 17.
For years, the British tax system has made the country one of the worst places in the developed world to be a family with a single earner. It is one of the few developed countries to offer no tax breaks to married couples.
Every other country in Europe, as well as many others, like the United States, taxes married couples with children as a unit. Britain instead treats them as two separate individuals. This means that in most of the rest of the world, a family with a single earner who earns $30,000 is taxed at the same rate as a family where two earn $15,000. But in the UK, the single-earning family pays a lot more tax.
Last month, the government announced that families where both parents worked would receive £1,200 a year toward child-care costs. But mothers who choose to look after their children themselves get nothing. Laura Perrins, spokeswoman for the group Mothers at Home Matter, pointed out that the government is “willing to support all care given to a child, other than that given by its mother.”
The number of women ages 25 to 34 who are “economically active” increased by 101,000 over the past year. A statistician with the Office for National Statistics, Richard Clegg, said this could be due to the government’s reforms driving women back to work.
“Forget ‘sad,’ it’s stupid,” wrote Cristina Odone, research fellow at the Center for Policy Studies, on her Telegraph blog. “Treating motherhood as a pastime ignores the importance of the family .… Family breakdown is more expensive and its consequences more far-reaching than the closure of mines or manufacturing.”
The British government may not value stay-at-home mothers, but they are vital for the nation’s families, and therefore the nation as whole. These reforms will hurt the whole country. For more on the importance of mothers, see our article “No Place Like Home.” ▪