Cabinet Minister suggests tax cuts for women who have more children

One thing that we have all learned in recent years is to be wary of saying that the Conservatives have jumped the shark because they will likely do something even worse the next day.

However today’s Sun report, that an actual current Cabinet Minister has suggested that women be given tax cuts to persuade them to have more children in order to “wean the country off its addiction to immigration” is a definite contender for the shark jumping accolade. This is an idea that comes from Orban’s Hungary, where women with more than four children don’t have to pay any tax for the rest of their lives.

Where do you begin with this one?

Let’s start with the fact that a series of unfortunate  Conservative Government actions,  culminating in the recent crashing of the economy, has made it increasingly difficult for any young person contemplating having a family to either buy a house or rent one that is suitable for a family. I was talking to a family member who had been hoping to buy a house next year. Their predicted mortgage payments had almost doubled, making the prospect impossible.

This also from a Government whose actions have ensured that 27% of children in the UK are living in poverty – and that was before the cost of living crisis. Three quarters of those children have parents who are in work. A perfect storm of benefit cuts (including the despicable removal of benefits for third and subsequent children), soaring childcare food and energy costs are about to make their completely preventable suffering much worse.

Not only that, but women already pay most of the price for having children in terms of lost earnings over their working life and pensions after as well as facing maternity discrimination in the workplace.

And then you have the inherent and obscene misogyny in that Cabinet Minister’s comments. I can’t imagine women will take too kindly to being seen as baby making machines who are there to serve the state. Where is their agency in all of this?

But the most obvious flaw in this is that even if they start this now, it’s going to be quite a long time before this additional new workforce comes on stream. I can’t imagine even this Tory Government sending babies to flip burgers or toddlers to pick fruit or clean care homes.

And of course have they even worked out how many children our young women would need to have to meet our needs.

Let’s think about why this Cabinet Minister wants to do this. Their hatred of foreigners is such that they cannot contemplate the idea of letting more people come to this country to work with all the economic and social benefits that come with them. The Conservative passion to end freedom of movement has had devastating consequences in the social care sector with job vacancies increasing by 84% between 2020 and 2021. To be clear, this means that your parents or grandparents could end up in a very vulnerable situation indeed.

And if the effect on our loved ones wasn’t bad enough, the farming sector, the people who grow our food, is suffering too. From Farming Weekly this July:

NFU head of food and farming Phil Hambling slammed the UK government for “strangling labour policy and limiting capacity”, citing this as the single biggest issue impacting horticulture.

“The way we have treated labour policy since coming out of the EU has been absolutely crippling for the entire food industry,” he said.

“The biggest single factor reducing growth in horticulture is access to people and labour.

If recent reports are correct, Liz Truss has come to realise that we are going to need increased immigration and is now trying to sideline the virulently anti immigration home secretary she appointed just over a month ago. Honestly, Suella,  if Jacob Rees-Mogg is more liberal than you on something, it is time to have a wee word with yourself.

We are now finding out ,to our great cost, how important and beneficial freedom of movement was for us. Unfortunately, our bonkers electoral system enabled a government elected on a minority of votes to destroy this and so much else that was good for our country. That’s as good an argument for PR as you are ever likely to find.

If this inane wittering is the best we can expect from a Cabinet Minister as we face the biggest economic crisis in half a century, I really do despair for us. And let’s not forget that every single major problem that we face, whether it’s energy supply or economic or labour market related has been exacerbated by the ideological, xenophobic incompetence of the Conservatives in government over many years.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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21 Comments

  • Absolutely – I mentioned that in the article. I have always said it is despicable.

  • George Thomas 9th Oct '22 - 10:23pm

    “Statistics Korea announced Thursday that it estimates the population will drop to 50.2 million in 2040 and 37.7 million in 2070.”

    Having spent 12 years making family life more difficult – a privilege, just like accessing legal services and housing, now mainly for the wealthy – and pushed away immigrants, the UK is not in a dissimilar position to South Korea. (I wonder what Vince Cable’s new book says about the first half of that sentence?)

    The one thing Tories hate more than immigration though is having to invest in the basic infrastructure and mechanisms that would allow young people to become serious about having families and those families becoming the workers we need to fill employment gaps. Investing in good quality, affordable housing was such an obvious win for Liz Truss, but her priority was top rate tax cuts and banker’s bonuses instead.

    On the bright side, as climate change becomes worse more and more of the world will become inhospitable which means people will naturally gather together (if allowed to) and therefore shrinking populations isn’t such a large worry longer term…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Oct '22 - 10:30pm

    A fine piece Caron, well argued, witholding no punch!

    Two disagreements, though. So bad are this government, so why any presumptions about identity. I think it just as likely a woman might say this if like the current crop. You reckon misogyny, on their part I reckon misanthropy if against those on benefits, but not if doing well and earning highly!

    Also, in similar fashion, why presume a hatred of foreigners, the most anti immigration Tories are the children of ethnic minority immigrants and regugees. Patel anyone?! Braverman as mentioned?!

    Rupa Huq revealed the difficulty of old ideas about minority qualities as stereotypes.

    Women are as bad as men or as good, black and white also gay or straight. Identity is found in character. It is nothing to do with physical characteristics.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Oct '22 - 10:39pm

    And if I can add, the govt ideology is hatred not based on gender or race, far from it. We have for the first period ever, no white male in all the govt top jobs. A woman PM and all ethnic minority senior roles in office. And the worst govt we can remember. Connection, none. It so happens this modern ideology has prejudice not on gender or race, but but on status.

    If you are a woman whose husband leaves you, or you end up with kids and in need of benefits, they come for you! If you are a foreigner who ends up in the UK in need of a refuge and have no money, they’ll go for you.

    Yet you can buy your way into this country, literally.

  • For me, the obscene price of family homes has been the biggest barrier against having children. The Lib Dems have been amongst the most fervent in opposing new housing (didn’t you base an entire by-election on it?), so why should it trust your party to be any help?

  • Mick Taylor 10th Oct '22 - 5:55am

    PT. Builders keep trying to build it at least get permission to on Green Belt. In my previous town there are still many brown field sites and only now, after 25 years and myriad refusals on green sites have they finally started to develop 3/4 sites that have been left as ugly eyesores for so long. There is still a huge town centre site to be developed and at least one former mill site. And yes, LibDems have been at the forefront of opposing development on green sites. The current sites, finally under development will provide a lot of homes, some affordable. Green belt sites are not up for grabs and quite right too

  • Peter Davies 10th Oct '22 - 8:50am

    We still haven’t worked out what to do when the government’s rhetoric is diametrically opposed to their policy. The Tories have generally had awful policies towards families with children and we have generally had quite good ones but they will go into the next election posing as the party that supports families. They can introduce a small incentive to encourage more women to have babies and that will get more coverage for that than all the increased child poverty over which they have presided. I am afraid we will just mock their logic and be reported as opposing babies.

  • Barry Lofty 10th Oct '22 - 9:25am

    Judging by their first few weeks in office Farage would be proud of them.

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Oct '22 - 9:50am

    I’d like to add one more factor to this debate. While agreeing with the thrust of the OP – don’t we have enough people on the planet already?

    The UN – reporting in 20219 – expected world population to increase to around 9.7 billion by 2050, possibly peaking at 11 billion around 2100:- https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2019.html

    World population is currently around 7.7 billion:- https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/population

    Around the world, large numbers of people are fleeing from ethnic and/or economic strife now, never mind how bad it might be in 10-20 years’ time.

    But it is people in developed nations who have the greatest impact on the world’s environmental problems. Increasing birthrates in developed nations might not be a good idea even without considering anti-immigration views.

    I’m not telling people not to have any children at all. Given I don’t have any and that I’m pessimistic about the future – I’m glad I don’t have any. I think things are likely to get a whole lot worse before there is the slightest chance of their getting better. But mightn’t it be a sensible thing for households to stop at 2-3 children?

  • Peter Davies 10th Oct '22 - 10:27am

    It’s a point worth raising in many contexts but nothing the Tories are likely to propose will have the slightest effect on UK let alone world population.

  • Well said Caron..
    In a cabinet made up entirely of ‘loonies’ you have found an utterance that goes beyond normal lunacy..
    However, to be fair to the minister, it is just a continuation of the normal Tory policy in which, we, the ‘drones’, will always need future replacements

  • Julie Paterson 10th Oct '22 - 10:50am

    Caron, your article made me think and I felt I should post a response. Is it not possible to see the suggestion of tax cuts for women who have children as a way of compensating for the damage to earning prospects that having children causes? Surely this is a move we should welcome?

  • @PT building needs to be in redundant town centres and brownfield sites and not on green belt land.

  • David Garlick 10th Oct '22 - 12:01pm

    Spot on.
    Bring on a good clean fight… No chance of that if the Conservatives are involved.

  • John Bicknell 10th Oct '22 - 4:56pm

    Articles in favour of increasing the birth rate in the UK do pop up from time to time on Conservative sites. Given that many parts of the nation are already overly congested, and the UK’s population is expected to continue to rise until 2050, this argument doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it is justified on the basis that the working age population needs to be increased, to pay for the costs of an ageing population. However, with the pressure on students to look to further education, many of these extra babies will not become tax-payers for more than 20 years. If this is the concern, then there are simpler solutions; either via encouraging immigration, (with limited visas if necessary), or, as is already happening, by delaying the date of qualification for the state pension.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Oct '22 - 11:02am

    Thing’s keep changing. Cut Family Allowance and then return to larger families.
    Against the idea includes, lack of housing, soon to br increasing mortgages. Medical Care. Where are the 40 newly built hospitals.
    Many relying on Food Banks.
    The high vist of Child Care and lack of nursery places.

  • @Chris Haigh

    That’s the sort of NIMYISM I’ve come to expect from Lib Dems. The green belt has in fact grown over the past 30 years, and is choking progress. Vast swathes of it are nothing more than industrial farming or useless scrubland. Many brown field sites are prohibitively expensive to develop and/or contaminated. Probably get 2-3 years supply out it at best.

    The population has grown massively these past 20 years, and continues to do so. Don’t see why the next generation should be tightly packed depressed town centres whilst older generations enjoy their ample space and gardens (no doubt built over greenfields at some point). It’s utterly selfish.

  • @PT – ” The green belt has in fact grown over the past 30 years, and is choking progress.”
    Strange logic, building yet more houses on greenbelt, isn’t progress. I would suggest: “The population has grown massively these past 20 years, and continues to do so. has been and will continue to be a massive millstone to progress.

    As for the cause of the population growth, well the blame for that lies wholly with Westminster and successive governments’ unsustainable and not fully thought-through quick-fix initiatives to “grow the economy” by importing people.

    By the way, a new build home is a luxury; don’t expect them to be affordable.

  • Nonconformistradical 13th Oct '22 - 7:24am

    Before even thinking about building on green belt land – suggest people look into future flood risk in whatever area they’re thinking about.
    https://check-long-term-flood-risk.service.gov.uk/map

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