Home Childcare voucher changes delayed after Commons debate

Childcare voucher changes delayed after Commons debate

Government agrees to keep system open for six more months after pressure from Labour.

Must Read

UK pensioners ‘suffering the worst poverty rate in western Europe’

Tories warned against further rises to the state pension age.

One in four households facing homelessness are already in work

Campaigners calls for the reversal of social security benefit cuts.

A homeless person dies every 19 hours in austerity Britain

Services are failing to protect homelessness people, say campaigners.

New DWP Secretary called for ‘tax on pensioners’

Tories can't be trusted on pensions, says SNP MP.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Childcare voucher changes delayed after Commons debate” was written by Peter Walker and Anne Perkins, for The Guardian on Tuesday 13th March 2018 19.53 UTC

Labour has pushed the government into agreeing to a six-month extension of the workplace childcare voucher system after using a parliamentary procedure to force a vote on a series of changes that ministers had hoped to put in place by directive.

However, as expected, the government won a vote on a parallel opposition motion that would have halted the imposition of an earnings threshold for free school meals.

The delay on the abolition of childcare vouchers, which Labour whips were predicting could lead to the policy being abandoned altogether, is another example of the party using Commons tactics to frustrate the government.

The vouchers policy, along with the free school meals changes and plans to amend free childcare for two-year-olds, were part of changes connected to the rollout of universal credit (UC) being passed via statutory instrument, which does not require a Commons vote.

But Labour secured a three-hour debate on the changes using a so-called humble address in which MPs can “pray against” proposals.

At the end of the debate Damian Hinds, the education secretary, vigorously defended the policies, but in response to an intervention by the DUP MP Emma Pengelly he said the childcare voucher abolition was being delayed.

“I have heard the concerns raised about this, and about the timing, and I can confirm we will be able to keep the voucher scheme open for a further six months to new entrants following representations that she has made.”

The employer-backed vouchers are being replaced by a new system of tax-free childcare, but Labour claims the system is poorly understood and its rollout has been botched.

Hinds said he would not back down on the free school meals threshold. Currently all families in England in receipt of UC are entitled to free school meals as a transitional measure while the new benefit is extended across the country. But the government now plans to set an income threshold of £7,400.

Children’s charities have said this will create a cliff-edge as earnings rise. The Children’s Society claims that once a family with one child passes the £7,400 threshold, they would need to earn £1,124 a year more to make up for the loss in free school meals.

“No child receiving free meals now, or you gained them during the rollout of universal credit, will lose their entitlement during that rollout, even if family earnings rise above the threshold,” Hinds assured MPs.

Introducing the debate, the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “If the house does not vote for our motions today, over a million families will lose out.”

She referred to Philip Hammond’s cautious optimism about the economy and public spending in his spring statement earlier in the day, saying: “So much for that light at the end of the tunnel the chancellor mentioned.”

Labour lost four votes on the statutory instruments, with Hinds’s concession on the childcare vouchers meaning an opposition motion to scrap the change was defeated by 315 votes to 288.

Labour has previously used humble address motions to push the government to release its Brexit impact studies.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Support Us!

Please support our work in highlighting the struggles faced by poor and vulnerable people in the UK with a small donation. Please only give as much as you can afford.



Latest News

One in four households facing homelessness are already in work

Campaigners calls for the reversal of social security benefit cuts.

‘Shocking’ impact of UK welfare cuts revealed

Impact of Tory welfare cuts on Scottish households laid bare in damning new report.

Unpaid carers unable to see a doctor because they can’t get a break from caring

Charity calls for better support for unpaid carers to enable them to take breaks from caring.

Homelessness in England soars 11% as campaigners demand £12.8bn every year for social housing

Campaigners blame a national shortage in homes for social rent and cuts to social security benefits.

130,000 families forced to live in one-bed flats, research shows

National Housing Federation calls for a £12.8bn investment in social housing.