Working families must never be left out in the cold
This week’s news has featured both the Tory’s views on matrimony and the nation’s perceived inadequacies in the face of the snow. With characteristic panache, Mayor Boris Johnson has managed to tie the two together with a flourish.
Boris has urged schools not to allow the snow to force them to close unless absolutely necessary; he cited the devastating impact on single parents of having to try to find last minute childcare or face problems at work. In raising this important concern the Mayor has demonstrated the very real commitment of modern Conservatives to helping single parents to balance a work life and a home life more effectively than many have been able to do in the past. However, the debate about the marriage tax allowance has also demonstrated a preoccupation amongst many Tories with marriage as the ‘be all and end all’ of social policy. Recognising wedding vows in the tax system is one thing, but it should not take priority above helping all working families to survive in hard times.
As I have written before, it is vital that the next government invests heavily in childcare for working families – no matter their marital status. Yes, marriage is important but the evidence shows that it is more important for the parents than it is for their children. Ensuring that kids are brought up in homes where someone is able to work, that they understand the nature and commitment of employment, is more important in tackling the aspiration-gap than bribing couples to stick together.
Boris has shown that even the most hardheaded of Tories can find sympathy for single parents who are struggling to make ends meet. If they are elected the Conservatives must aspire to be the party of all families; come rain, come shine or even come snow.