Cuts in child care subsidies unite opposition
Cuts in child care subsidies unite opposition.
Few issues unite the left-wing and right-wing opposition in the Lower House. But with budget-day just over a week away, the conservative VVD and GreenLeft do agree that child care for working parents should be cheaper, so that more women can join the work force.
The two parties also want to gradually abolish tax relief for housewives. GreenLeft says it has an alternative plan which makes the government cuts redundant, and even provides extra money to improve the quality of child care facilities. The party wants to make the current universal child allowance income related, and introduce means-testing for child care subsidies. The VVD, however, are against means-testing, and instead want to cut child care subsidies for parents who abuse the system by using facilities on days they are not in fact at work.
When the Christian Democrats, the Labour Party and the Christian Union formed a cabinet one of their main policies was free child care for working parents. Unfortunately the measure has been so popular that the coalition parties had to tinker with the details to bring down costs.
Children in a kindergarten (photo flickr
As a result, one of the worst hit groups will be child-minders. Education Minister Sharon Dijksma plans to cut child-minder subsidies from 6 to 2.5 euros per hour. A survey by the Dutch child-minder organisation PKGO has revealed that more parents will have to work less if the cuts go ahead. In one in five families one of the parents will have to stop working altogether. In addition, 45% of child-minders will have to stop taking in children. This will mainly effect low income workers and people who work outside office hours, such as health care workers and the police.
GreenLeft and the VVD have picked up the gauntlet. Last Wednesday the VVD held a rally in The Hague to highlight the problem. Local politicians presented party leader Mark Rutte with a "Hands off child care" report, following a bus trip past a number of day care centres and creches. GreenLeft have collected 75,000 signatures on a petition demanding cheaper child care, which it will hand over to the government on budget-day along with its alternative plan, "Opting for child care". Meanwhile parents are wondering who will be left carrying the baby.
9 September 2008