Jeremy Hunt’s childcare overhaul spells the end of the traditional family – Catholic Herald

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

When I read that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt wanted to get a million more women (he means mothers) back to work, I thought perhaps he had overdone the sherry. When I saw him later, at the dispatch box, declaring that “almost half of non-working mothers said they would prefer to work if they could arrange suitable childcare”, I concluded he had become slightly unhinged.

When Hunt continued saying that by massively increasing childcare subsidies the Tories were “breaking down the barriers that stop people working”, it was clear that this was the final nail in the coffin for mothers looking after their own children. Indeed, it is the end of an era, an era when babies went from being valued, to being seen as barriers to work. 

It seems completely lost on the Chancellor that looking after children, especially pre-school children, is work. It might not be paid, but it’s work. But to Jeremy Hunt and the Tories, babies are barriers to the much greater and honourable pursuit of making money and building careers. And we are talking about babies here, because the childcare subsidy includes 30 hours of “free” childcare to parents of babies from 9 months old, during term-time, from 2025. 

Over the course of the last two days, I didn’t see one journalist ask where the evidence is that it is beneficial for young babies to be separated from their mothers for long periods of time. That would be because there is none. But there is plenty of evidence suggesting that it is harmful to young babies to be in institutional care and away from their mothers. 

Now, I do want to acknowledge that it is incredibly difficult for a young couple to have a family on a single income. It has become mandatory in the last decade for both mothers and fathers of young children to be working, often full-time, given housing, food and energy costs. 

If these huge childcare subsidies (£17.3 billion over the next five years) help families with young children with these expenses, then I am genuinely relieved and happy for them. It was even reported that 6 in 10 women said the high cost of childcare was one reasons for ending a pregnancy. If this measure helps more women to continue their pregnancies, then it is obviously a good thing. 


Jeremy Hunt’s childcare overhaul spells the end of the traditional family – Catholic Herald

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