Political parties respond to our questions #3
In the run-up to Election Day on 12 December, we've been asking political parties how they plan to create an equal society for young women. To help you decide how to cast your vote, we’re bringing you their answers in a series of blogs.
Here are the responses we received to questions on valuing young women’s unpaid work.
Conservative Party spokesperson: “To build on the 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, we will establish a new £1 billion fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during the school holidays.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party: “Labour will provide 30 hours of free childcare for all 2-4 year olds because we recognise how fundamental it is to society, as well as parents. Our Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour and transformed social security system, which will pay childcare costs up front so that parents aren’t forced to turn down work or get into debt to pay for childcare, will ensure childcare is no longer something people have to make sacrifices to afford.
We’ll open 1000 new SureStart centres so that childcare is accessible and community-based. Currently, pregnant women are entitled to 52 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave but Statutory Maternity Pay only lasts for 39 weeks. So Labour will extend Statutory Maternity Pay to 52 weeks, allowing new mothers to spend a full year with their new born babies before going back to work – or increasing the time available for shared parental leave.”
Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities: “Liberal Democrats will create a fairer economy, where every person can live a secure, happy and fulfilling life. To do that, we will provide free childcare for all children with parents in work from nine months and for all children from two years, up to the time they start school. This will plug the gap in provision, ensuring that parents have an easier choice when it comes to returning to work after parental leave. Free childcare will allow parents to choose the balance of work and childcare that suits them, and help close attainment gaps in education and gender gaps in pay. By tripling the Early Years Pupil Premium and expanding Children’s Centres, we can give further help to the most disadvantaged children, narrowing the achievement gap.”
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women’s Equality party: “We will invest in universal free childcare for 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year from the end of maternity leave when children are nine months old until they start school. Women make up the majority of the childcare workforce, which is chronically underpaid compared to teachers. Our initial investment in childcare will be at the current rates of pay, but we will increase pay to the same as teachers over time, using increased tax revenues from job creation, and reduced spending on benefits as more women are freed up to work as they choose to.”
Conservative party spokesperson: “We will encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. We have reformed redundancy law so companies cannot discriminate against women immediately after returning from maternity leave.
We will legislate to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care and look at ways to make it easier for fathers to take paternity leave. We will extend the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers, the majority of whom are women, to a week.
To help those looking after family members, especially women, we will support the main carer in any household receiving the Universal Credit payment. This will help give greater independence to individuals, most often women, trapped with coercive partners.
We will spend £1 billion every year on social care, and urgently seek a cross-party consensus for long-term reform which guarantees that no one has to sell their homes to pay for their care.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party: “Education is a right, so we’ll ensure it is accessible to everyone by scrapping tuition fees and creating a free entitlement to education, meaning people can access it at a time that suits them, whenever that may be. We’ll give women who have taken time out of the traditional workplace the right to reskill, with maintenance grants for disadvantaged learners.”
Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities: “Carers are invaluable and the work they do is amazing. Yet, young adult carers are more likely to have to drop out of their college or university course than other students. Liberal Democrats believe learning institutes and employers should treat being a carer as a diversity issue and provide support accordingly. Liberal Democrats will also ensure local authorities ensure that young carers have educational opportunities on finance, sex and relationships and mental health. We will also provide a package of carer benefits such as free leisure centre access, free bus travel for young carers, and self-referral to socially prescribed activities and courses.”
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women’s Equality party: “The skills outlined are not valued because it is predominantly women who do care work unpaid, and who make up over 80 percent of the social care workforce in formal care work settings. One key way of changing the dismissal of care as work is to invest in it as a nation. We will ensure that half of government investment in infrastructure is allocated to social infrastructure, including childcare and social care.”
We'll be publishing 1 more blogs in the run up to the election, with responses from political parties on how they plan to support young women. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.