The Office for National Statistics has revealed that the middle fifth of households saw their disposable incomes reduce by £1,100 to £24,400 in year to April 2012.
With the Chancellors austerity measures being put in place, the poorest members of society have been hit the hardest.
The indirect taxes such as VAT on alcohol, tabacco and fuel rose from 28p to 31p which hit the poorest fifth chunk of average disposable incomes.
The overall household group hit the hardest though VAT increases from 15pc to 20pc was the poorest.
This is an interesting population group as households are mostly hit by indirect taxes depending on the goods and services they use a large amount of.
A leading think tank has discovered that fathers pay has been slow to increase compared to men without children over past two decades. Surprisingly women’s pay has outstripped those peers without children.
This is thought to be the significant change in working patterns as more women are now working full time.
Research has discovered that mothers and fathers on low to middle pay, has demonstrated a gender pay gap since the mid nineties. The decrease has resulted in 25 percent.
More men have been forced to find part-time roles over this period whilst more women are going back to work full-time. Another reason for this is women have established careers by the time they have babies and therefore are older.
With the significant changes in society and the economy, families will focus on maximising on the parent who can earn the most from their salary, so this determines which career changes to part-time hours where possible.
Going back a few decades more women would have automatically become a stay-at home mum or reduced their working hours compared to families today who ensure they steer clear of poverty, will commit to dual-earners.
As much as I am looking forward to being spoilt this Sunday, I will be reflecting on just how lucky I am as a mum (of course!) but also how our social positioning has changed over the decades.
Women today are encouraged to be ambitious and believe that anything is possible - we can have it all, right? We should be immensely proud and be celebrated as we continue to break through barriers in business and society. We have achieved this along with running a house, sustaining relationships and most importantly raising a family.
Over the decades we have gained much more freedom and considerable opportunities as women and this definitely should be celebrated. We owe a big thanks to our grandmothers!
Today we are fortunate to be better positioned financially and socially compared to women generations before us, but we still have a long way to go. It is positive that more women return to the workplace after becoming a mum these days but it is a shame that of all the non full-time jobs available on the market, only 5% are quality career jobs. So many skills are wasted as women take roles which require less skills than they have achieved in their careers. It is proven that businesses are taking steps to improve their appetite for flexible working and this is a step in the right direction. The real benefits of companies sourcing from a talent pool of mums are hugely positive - loyalty, efficient budgeting, commitment and motivated are just a few to mention.
So on reflection, this Mother's Day we have lots to celebrate and be optimistic about. Small steps but in the right direction!
It has been revealed that stay-at-home dad’s has more than doubled in the past year meaning that couples have decided that the mother will be the main breadwinner. Aviva insurers carried out the research which suggested that men performing the role of “primary parent” has risen to 1.4 million this year compared to 600,000 last year.
It doesn’t surprise me at all and there are a few obvious reasons as to why dad’s are taking on this role. Financial factors are thought to be a major factor and with the shift in the economy, the decision can be based on which parent earns the most money. I can identify with this scenario as the same happened to myself and my husband. Back in 2009 when I was due to return to work from maternity leave, my husband lost his job. It made sense that I returned full time whilst he looked after the children and stepped back and rethink what he would do. A tricky transition at the time but in hindsight was the best decision we made.
I was listening to Radio 2 just this week and a few stay-at-home dad’s were being interviewed. The outcome of each dad interviewed was mostly based on financial matters – losing their job, wife earning more and a complete career change. Amongst these dad’s a few were conscious decision’s to stay at home whilst others had not envisaged such a role and to support the family, the decision was made. It was interesting to hear that in the end they all realised what a positive solution being a stay-at-home dad was. Their families were better balanced and happy, career opportunities had been created for some dad’s whilst being at home which overall provided satisfaction. Also, the realisation that the early years where vitally important and being at home presented itself as a privilege.
Of course there are some negative outcome’s from the research and interviewed. Nearly one in five felt they “were less of a man” and one in seven wished they could find a jobs which would pay more than their partner so they could get back to work. Not all negative may I add, in that most dad’s felt comfortable in their role and within their family unit had collectively decided that this was the way life would be and it was their best solution.
I think the reasons overall for stay-at-home dad’s will be varied and will certainly rise more over the years. We are experiencing such a transition in our society and economy that new working patterns and needs are being shaped further, whereby it will be more familiar that men become the “primary parent”.
There have been rumours surfacing that the government are planning to scale back maternity and paternity leave to encourage more of a business friendly agenda.
A government commissioned report which is supposedly suggesting a reduction in maternity leave and the reversal of plans for shared parental leave which is due to be rolled out in 2015. This report was compiled by Venture Capitalist – Adrian Beecroft who was commissioned by Cameron to assess how to reduce policies which are a burden on businesses.
This has created tension from within the coalition as this policy goes against the views of the Lib Dem’s. Family friendly policies are key to what they have been promoting so this u-turn may come as a surprise.
Senior members of the Lib Dem’s appear confused by the report as it was only last year that Cameron was campaigning that they were the “most” family-friendly government.
Equalities Minister – Lynne Featherstone launched an attack against the report ‘These are hideous suggestions …..what I would say about them is that it would be absolutely extraordinary if we were to abandon our commitment to these flagship policies’
We will see how true the report will turn out to be, but with the number of female votes turning away from the current government party at the moment the timing couldn’t be worse for Cameron and his colleagues.
You may be wondering which roles I am referring to? Well in fact, I am referring to switching roles of a housewife to house-husband…..
Would you believe it, there are now over 200,000 house-husbands across the UK and research suggests this number will only rise. Only 18 years ago the figure was 119,000 and in 2009, 192,000.
Media would suggest that there may be a stigma attached, but what else would you expect them to say? I feel it should be embraced. As I have mentioned throughout many of my blogs that due to economic changes and flexible appetite of both mums and dads then I would only expect more dads to ditch their careers and focus on a new challenge – house-husband.
It is a conversation both my husband and I have had previously. Go back two years just after the markets crashed and just as I returned to work post maternity leave my husband lost his job suddenly. It was without a doubt that I returned to work full time and support my family. Fortunately my career would have allowed my husband to take over as a house-husband, but as I have written previously, my career needed to change along with my needs and so it wasn’t to be. If it was a career I adored and I didn’t feel the way I did, it may have been a big consideration.
I think society is embracing a more positive lifestyle choice and more men aren’t afraid to owning up in taking care of the domestic duties over a career they may perhaps have not much interest in and if their wife holds down the more dynamic and financially stronger position of the two. So why not?
I personally can think of a handful of house-husbands where the dynamics are just that. If it works and there isn’t a power struggle but some degree of harmony then it can work. I am sure many mums would rather their husband be in control of the care of the children than an outsider…..obviously from a responsibility point of view. I am also sure some women may have to firmly bite their lip at the way in which some husbands may carry out the domestic chores. I know I would be one of them! But, hey, a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things…
When we observe a child their primary needs are love, boundaries, structure and routine. I am pretty sure most dad’s can very naturally provide this. I believe what works within your family unit, works for you. I wholeheartedly support the house-husband, but as a nation are we doing enough to encourage more positive family lifestyle’s by exchanging roles completely?
I couldn’t resist writing about the Government’s proposed changes to update workplace regulations – additional “flexibility”!. You may have sensed, this is quite close to my heart.
Firstly, I must highlight the groans which I can already hear quite loudly from “some” employers, not all may I add. And yes, I agree small businesses will feel the pinch, however in the grand scheme of the things I feel that additional flexibility sprinkled across our society is what we so need to bring us into the modern world we all want to be part of. Some concerns have already been echoed by The Federation of Small Businesses “warning of the rule changes which may complicate current rules and may be a burden to businesses wishing to expand in a tough economic climate”.
Now before we get too excited, the Government will begin consulting on “plans” to give both parents an extra month off during the first year of baby’s life. The proposed date for introducing this is 2015. They may not actually even happen?
If they do go ahead, the way in which I interpret this is that the new flexible working plans will not only support parents with young families but anyone with “caring” responsibilities outside of their job. This would be a huge benefit to many people and their families in this country if it does become policy.
Looking at this from an employer’s perspective, it needn’t be considered a complete disadvantage for them. An example of my own experience when returning to work from maternity leave very early, as this was mainly for reasons of not wanting to impact my own career aspirations, but actually support a small business during an economic downturn. At the time, this policy would have worked a treat! I was very aware that I needed to return to work and at that time I could have concentrated on a few essential inputs to support the business and then move back out of my role to continue with my maternity leave. Perhaps this is what some businesses would actually benefit from without panicking that the world will crumble if a key employee’s skills/knowledge is absent for a period of time? I appreciate not always ideal for some businesses.
I really do think life has moved forward in our society. So many women return to work after their maternity leave nowadays and fathers do play a part in caring for children and domestic duties more than they ever did. I think the additional flexibility for dad’s is positive, however, I believe this will be harder to implement as it may simply result in some damaging their career’s. This has been highlighted from many business experts and also men’s “ego’s” may get in the way! I am not sure all men (especially if the main breadwinner) are going to take advantage of this. Again, really will depend on the father’s career, company and I think the individual. A good benefit to have though..
The first year of a babies life changes almost daily and it is a time to be enjoyed and is very precious. I guess the reason I am in full support for more flexibility is that it can be achieved, sensibly and may in fact assist some families to keep their career responsibilities on track as it certainly doesn’t need to be a “knee jerk” reaction going back to work. This new policy may just help some, not all, however it’s a good step towards supporting their family in what is quite a hectic and pressurised world we live in today…..
Single Parent……….. Double Trouble?
Being a parent is not easy. Being a single parent is twice as hard. Responsibilities, worries, bills, school runs, ballet classes, football club…. are borne by one pair of shoulders and even Mr. T couldn’t carry that burden alone.
For whatever reason or circumstance finds you in this position, it is one that is initially daunting but with a bit of support, a leap of faith and a good sense of humour, it is one that you can not only survive but embrace. You can sleep easy at night. You can still have a career. You can pay your bills.
Your life doesn’t stop; it just takes an unexpected direction that can initially throw you into unfamiliar territory with a large pinch of guilt and a sprinkle of self-doubt.
My journey began when my daughter was a baby. I have since learned through first-hand experience about everything from working tax credits to childcare, flexible working hours to making your pound go further.
From my experience, the work/home balance is a fine juggling act for every mother but once struck, it provides space, self-esteem and fulfilment as a working woman and recharged batteries, passion, excitement and fulfilment as a loving mother.
That pearl of wisdom relayed, I am no expert but knowledge is power and it goes a long way. It gave me strength to know that I wasn’t alone or some societal anomaly and that there are a lot of good organisations and websites out there (allmumkind and gingerbread to name but two) that provide practical information and support and don’t make you feel like the pip in the apple.
Over the next few months, I shall tackle a number of topics with the aim of clearing the mists of uncertainty and providing a bit of much-needed sanity. I shall be offering practical advice and support for those of you out there that need a nudge in the right direction or just want a friendly ear to listen to your problems or answer your nagging concerns. I am more than happy to answer questions or comments to my post.
Posted in Family, Guest posts, Mummy and working, Single "super" mummy | Tags: Balance, Benefits, Careers, Childcare, Employment, Financial, Flexible, Mummy, Responsibility, Single Parent, Support Network, Women, Working
A really interesting report issued by the UK Women’s Budget Group along with the Fawcett Society points out that the 2011 Budget doesn’t help those affected by public spending cuts, rising unemployment and may actually widen gender inequality.
Within this report, such findings include;
The prospect if more women than men in the UK will be unemployed if the current economic strategy continues.
The report goes on to highlight, that by removing the protections of men and women in caring responsibilities will hinder them from working.
Interestingly, the report suggests that businesses who will be set to benefit most from new tax breaks and other incentives are more often men. It is felt that schemes to support women in business are scrapped.
The acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, Anna Bird, rightly hits back saying “ It’s time for the government to admit there is a problem with “business as usual” and recognise that to grow, we need everyone to play their rightful part. Women play a valuable role in the economy, but we urgently need to close the gender pay gap – in the private sector this stands at 21 per cent. – broaden women’s employment options and provide more support to enable more women to start up business”
Extended Paternity leave will come into effect from April 3rd 2011. This means that under the new rules, father’s can take up to 26 weeks paternity leave. Great idea, but will your husband/partner be taking advantage of this flexible benefit?
A generous contribution from the Government and a modern approach in identifying “hands on daddies”, but I think for some families it is simply not a reality.
A recent study carried out by uSwitch.com found 26% of fathers felt that, by taking advantage of such a benefit would be detrimental to their career’s. 16% were fearful about losing their jobs.
With the pressure of increased responsibility and workload, over half the fathers questioned simply couldn’t afford to take the time off. Financial constraints was a major factor and this would hinder nearly half of the men questioned. Some men taking part in the survey, went as far to say that they wouldn’t be happy to cover the workload for father’s taking this length of paternity leave. Money concerns seemed to be a recurring theme, however on a positive note, in general, many men embraced such a benefit.
During a time of economic uncertainty along with financial fears, unfortunately these factors will prevent many father’s from being the “hands on” parent they would want to be.
I think it is a real plus supporting new father’s, but until there is an increased shift towards flexible work patterns and perhaps some improvement on certain stigma’s attached to such parental rights within society, then I am not sure families will embrace such an opportunity nor have the choice to.