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sarah-champion-mp.jpgSarah Champion MP reports on Labour's plans to tackle the rising cost of childcare.

Picture this. You’re a mum, working full time, with two young children.  You earn nearly £12,000.  You’ve got a partner who also works full time, earning the same as you.  You’ve recently returned to work after having a career break to spend the last two years raising your children.  During that time, you’ve found it hard to survive on one income alone, so you felt it was time to return to work to help bring money in for the family.  

Imagine your horror, then, when you realise that after you’ve paid out your childcare costs and your other bills, you’re bringing home just over £4 a week in additional income.  Just £211 per year.  That’s the shocking reality for many working families under this government, and it’s a reality that should not be allowed to continue.

Recent reports have shown that the cost of childcare prevents more than two thirds of mums working more.  And over 33% of full time mums say they’d like to work but can’t afford to due to childcare.  That’s not all: the figures show that one in five working mums want to take on 10 extra hours of work, but the cost of childcare is stopping them doing so. 

Shamefully, Britain lags behind our international counterparts on getting mums that choose to, back to work.  In the UK, about two thirds of our mums are in some form of paid work, but internationally, up to 86% of mums are able to return to work.  This is a real concern: it tells us that mums who want to work are struggling with getting back to work.  We know that the cost of childcare is the major factor preventing them from doing so.

This government is failing to tackle the cost of childcare, and they are failing women and families.  They’re failing women who want to get back on the career ladder, and find it harder to pick up where they left off, the longer they have been away from the workplace.  They’re failing families, because the risk of child poverty in families with only one earner is significantly higher than for families where two people are working. It’s time for David Cameron to face the facts: childcare costs are the single biggest obstacle to getting women back to work, and his government has no plan to help in this parliament.

That’s why I’m proud of the work Labour have done through their policy review, showing their commitment to women and families everywhere.

Under a Labour Government, mums will see the free childcare allowance increase from 15 hours to 25 hours, which will give them the freedom to get back to work if they choose. We’re also giving a legal guarantee to parents with primary-aged children that they can access before and after-school childcare through their school – from 8am until 6pm – to help parents balance work and family life. Through the policy review, we’ve also heard many mums say that they’re concerned about the quality of the childcare they receive. Labour is committed to delivering affordable and flexible high quality childcare.

It’s clear to me that under this government, women and families are suffering. Labour’s plans will put an end to this, and make sure parents have the freedom to make the choices that are right for their families, and no longer feel constrained by the cost of childcare.

Sarah Champion tweets @SarahChampionMP.

Championing Childcare

Sarah Champion MP reports on Labour's plans to tackle the rising cost of childcare. Picture this. You’re a mum, working full time, with two young children.  You earn nearly £12,000. ...

Dawn_Butler.jpegDawn Butler, Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Brent Central reports on the Labour Black Women's Network's first policy forum and training day. 

On Saturday 7th June the Labour Black Women’s Network met for its first National Policy Forum and training day. 

Labour Black Women’s Network (LBWN) is a community collective and was co-founded in 2010 by activists Caroline Alabi, Mandy Richards & Florence Nosegbe.

It was established to encourage, assist and support black women of African and African-Caribbean origins within the Labour Party, who wish to stand for party and/or public office by providing practical hands-on campaign support, peer-mentoring, advice and information via grassroots community organisation, targeted training seminars and conferences. 

We are also campaigning to ensure that increased numbers of black women are represented on party bodies at all levels and are elected to public office in national and local government.

Women of all ages, backgrounds and careers attended - from veteran campaigners to women coming to a Labour Party event for the first time.

We were delighted to welcome Diane Abbott MP, Keith Vaz MP, Angela Eagle MP, and Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote to join us for our discussions.

Over the course of the day participants discussed areas of policy from work and business to mental health, proposing a number of practical policy ideas, which you can find on Labour’s policy hub YourBritain. 

All political parties have work to do to ensure a parliament that genuinely reflects our diverse society, but with the continued work of organisations like Labour Black Women’s Network, Labour is making progress. I would like to implore the Party to listen and action the concerns of African and African-Caribbean female activists within the Party in order to encourage and increase participation.

 LBWN_NPF.jpg

 

Dawn Butler tweets @DawnButlerBrent

Diversifying Parliament: Black Labour Women Lead the Way

Dawn Butler, Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Brent Central reports on the Labour Black Women's Network's first policy forum and training day.  On Saturday 7th June the Labour Black Women’s Network...

Ann McKechin, MP for Glasgow North and a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills committee on addressing the gender imbalance within the apprenticeships system.

The glass ceiling is a familiar metaphor; an invisible barrier which stops women, despite their talent and experience, from reaching the same heights as their male colleagues in business and public life.

But since the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee’s inquiry into Women in the Workplace reported last year, I have become more concerned with what we might call the ‘magnetic floor’; the range of factors constraining women at the start of their careers, channelling them into low paid work with few opportunities for progression, and limiting their ability to rise up the ranks into the ‘pipeline’ of executive talent in organisations as easily as their male peers. To me, this is much more important than the overwhelming focus on the upper tiers of corporate life.

Poor careers advice in schools, unhelpful and outdated stereotyping of jobs by society, and ingrained gender divides within the apprenticeship system all hold women back.

The sectoral gender divides in the apprenticeships system struck me as particularly concerning during the BIS committee’s inquiry. Men undertaking apprenticeships – and these figures are broadly mirrored in the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship system – outnumber women by as many as 50 to 1 in the engineering, IT, industrial applications, security systems and rail transport sectors. These all offer good options for career progression, along with rising pay and responsibility.

Women, on the other hand, dominate the beauty therapy, retail, customer service, hairdressing and teaching assistant schemes. Without wanting to disparage any of these sectors, it is clear that young women are being short-changed by enrolling in these schemes over those which will likely pay more, and offer far better opportunities in the long term.

With public money at stake, the Government has a duty to lever its role as training sponsor to create fairer outcomes. Targets should be set to get more young women into the traditional ‘male’ sectors; a measure which would be good for the economy as well as equality.

The idea that there are ‘jobs for girls’ and ‘jobs for boys’ is still widespread. Young women are subject to far greater pressure over their choice of work than boys. Careers advice in schools often does little to encourage girls into traditionally ‘male’ sectors, which could prove transformative for their outlook and future development. Entrenched attitudes, often reinforced by family members, make it difficult for young women to break out of the mould and pursue career paths like science, technology and engineering.

All this must change. It is vital that we address the gender imbalances present at the starts of women’s careers if we want to alter the current status quo of high-skill, high-mobility careers for the boys, and low-pay, low-mobility jobs for the girls. I believe this bottom-up approach would not only be empowering for women and their choices in life and work, but that it would also be hugely beneficial for up-skilling the UK economy.

I welcome the creation of Amplify as a forum for Labour women to campaign for change. As female leaders, we should do all we can to help young women at the start of their careers.

The Apprenticeships Gender Divide Persists

Ann McKechin, MP for Glasgow North and a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills committee on addressing the gender imbalance within the apprenticeships system.

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