Mixed response expected from Christians to pre-budget report - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 2, 2004

Mixed response expected from Christians to pre-budget report

-2/12/04

In a move that may be cheered by some Christians and lamented by others, Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced an extension of maternity leave, and help for pensioners in his pre-budget report.

Trumpeting British prosperity ahead of an election expected next May, Brown said Labour would do more to help families with young children if re-elected.

Paid maternity leave would be extended from six months to nine, at a cost of 285 million pounds, and would be more flexible, with parents able to swap leave by passing it from the mother to the father.

Brown also promised to increase the number of hours of free nursery education available to 3 and 4-year-olds and find funds to keep schools open longer in the evenings so children could be cared for while their parents are still at work.

Brown said the moves would create "the most generous maternity support, and support for young children, ever in the history of our country".

Unions welcomed the moves, which will also be warmly greeted by some Christians who believe that help should be channelled toward the most vulnerable.

However, more conservative Christian groups are expected to focus on aspects of the tax credit system which they say discriminate against children living in two-parent families which the chancellor is not addressing. The groups say lone parents receive too much help when compared to those in married relationships.

Before the budget statement the charity CARE pointed out that children living in two-parent families can be worse off than children living in lone-parent families. CARE also suggested that in some cases couples would be better off if they lived apart.

Roger Smith, Head of Public Policy at CARE said: ìThis is very disturbing evidence. A system which can leave two-parent families with close to average income in poverty, and where they would be better off financially living apart, cannot be right.î

Don Draper, tax adviser to CARE, said that the tax credit system was biased against two-parent families.

Brown also announced extra help for old age pensioners in the form of one-off payments of 50 pounds. Those over 70 would be entitled to a maximum of 250 pounds and over-80s to 350 pounds.

Mixed response expected from Christians to pre-budget report

-2/12/04

In a move that may be cheered by some Christians and lamented by others, Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced an extension of maternity leave, and help for pensioners in his pre-budget report.

Trumpeting British prosperity ahead of an election expected next May, Brown said Labour would do more to help families with young children if re-elected.

Paid maternity leave would be extended from six months to nine, at a cost of 285 million pounds, and would be more flexible, with parents able to swap leave by passing it from the mother to the father.

Brown also promised to increase the number of hours of free nursery education available to 3 and 4-year-olds and find funds to keep schools open longer in the evenings so children could be cared for while their parents are still at work.

Brown said the moves would create "the most generous maternity support, and support for young children, ever in the history of our country".

Unions welcomed the moves, which will also be warmly greeted by some Christians who believe that help should be channelled toward the most vulnerable.

However, more conservative Christian groups are expected to focus on aspects of the tax credit system which they say discriminate against children living in two-parent families which the chancellor is not addressing. The groups say lone parents receive too much help when compared to those in married relationships.

Before the budget statement the charity CARE pointed out that children living in two-parent families can be worse off than children living in lone-parent families. CARE also suggested that in some cases couples would be better off if they lived apart.

Roger Smith, Head of Public Policy at CARE said: ìThis is very disturbing evidence. A system which can leave two-parent families with close to average income in poverty, and where they would be better off financially living apart, cannot be right.î

Don Draper, tax adviser to CARE, said that the tax credit system was biased against two-parent families.

Brown also announced extra help for old age pensioners in the form of one-off payments of 50 pounds. Those over 70 would be entitled to a maximum of 250 pounds and over-80s to 350 pounds.

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