Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: Good news for Mums and Dads

“Liberal Democrats will allow parents to share the allocation of maternity and paternity leave between them in whatever way suits them best.” That’s what the party’s 2010 manifesto said would happen – and this week it actually did happen. Here’s what Nick Clegg had to say about the party’s policy success…

libdem letter from nick clegg

A short one this week: just to say a huge well done to all Liberal Democrats. We’ve finally landed our flagship policy on shared parental leave.

Help us share the news about our shared parental leave!

After a lot of work – not least from Jo Swinson – we’ve secured a package that will transform the opportunities open to parents when their children are born. Instead of two measly weeks for fathers and an assumption that mothers should automatically take the rest, parents will be able to divvy up the first year however suits them best. If they choose to, women will be able to return to work earlier or for specific projects, with men staying at home. Couples will even be able to take off chunks of time together.

It hasn’t been easy. Some people took a lot of convincing. But we’ve done it and I’m delighted at how many businesses have come out in favour over the last few days.

We believe you shouldn’t have to choose between a stronger economy or a fairer society – Britain needs both. With the Liberal Democrats in government, that’s what you’ll get.


P.S Anyone looking for more details of how the new system will work can find them here.

Do you know someone who would like to get Nick’s weekly email? Forward this post and they can sign up here:

Don’t forget you can catch up with all Nick Clegg’s past Letters from the Leader on LibDemVoice by clicking on this link.

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  • Eddie Sammon 1st Dec '13 - 2:38pm

    A good policy. I think equal rights are important, because without them you just have forced inequality, resentment and alienation.

    I think this is kind of the hallmark of what liberalism is all about: letting people make their own decisions, not a paternal government telling them how their family or society should be constructed.

  • David Evans 1st Dec '13 - 10:46pm

    Flagship Policy? Didn’t that used to be something like 1% on Income tax for Education, or even the abolition of Tuition fees? Strikes me Nick is desperately looking for something to big up as a Lib Dem triumph, even where it is clear Cameron is largely in favour.

  • andrew purches 2nd Dec '13 - 8:05am

    On paper a good idea perhaps, but it is really faff and fuddle for the middle orders! The self employed will not benefit from this instrument whatsoever, and those employed by most businesses will have to keep their heads down and opt out. Those families where there could be some benefit to be gained will be on benefit or slaving for wages well below the national median income level. Another Lib Dem bit of show- boating I am afraid.

  • Its a great policy, but its not a flagship policy. The vast majority of parents wont take this up as statutory maternity/paternity pay is so low its simply unaffordable to have all that time off.

    We need to be careful on this or the Lib Dem’s will get a reputation for being tinkerers putting 5p on plastic bags and not focusing on the issues people.

    Andrew – On the self employed point you do get maternity pay from the government when you’re self employed which came as a bit of surprise to us. I could see a situation where two self employed parents could take a few months off together and live off that money, but I don’t think the details of how the policy will work have been announced yet.

  • Robert Wootton 5th Dec '13 - 10:39pm

    A flagship policy would be for new parents to choose a Parenthood Allowance equivalent to 100 hours times the minimum wage hourly rate. The qualification for this being a parent or grandparent that has care and control of the child and has gained an NVQ in parenting and childcare skills. This would be payable to the father or mother (or grandparent) who is the main carer. This would establish equality between the sexes. Paying child benefit to the mother only is sexist.

    How would the government afford it? By requiring tenants to pay 20% of their income towards the rent and homeowners to pay 25% of their income towards their mortgage. 20% of the income of parenthood allowance would virtually wipe out the Housing Benefit bill. It would be fiscally neutral.

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