What on Earth is the point of ending the Salary Sacrifice scheme in favour of something worse?
I think we all know the answer to that one, where the Conservative government is concerned.
The Tories are rolling out a new ‘tax-free childcare’ scheme that (of course) is less generous than the current range of programmes.
It’s no wonder nine-tenths of the target customers haven’t bothered to take it up.
But when this means the Tories are likely to under-spend by £800 million, you won’t hear them complaining.
Perhaps that’s the point, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, 10,000 servicepeople and 2,500 support staff are worse-off by £456 per year, according to the Childcare Vouchers Providers Association.
So it’s a double bonus for the Tories.
Not only do they not have to spend millions of pounds a year, but they get to put thousands of people in dire financial straits.
And these are servicepeople whose pay packets have already lost £1,000 a year, in real terms, since Tory austerity kicked in, back in 2010.
It’s all gravy for the Tories.
Let’s hope they don’t need lots of Armed Forces people to, I don’t know, try to prevent people in the UK being poisoned by a foreign military nerve agent.
Good thing that’s never likely to happen, isn’t it?
ADDITIONAL: In the debate, the Tories were beaten back and delayed axing the current scheme by six months – but only because of an intervention by a member of the DUP, the party with whom the Tories have a “confidence and supply” alliance.
Labour has pushed the government into agreeing to a six-month extension of the workplace childcare voucher system after using a parliamentary procedure to force a vote on a series of changes that ministers had hoped to put in place by directive.
The delay on the abolition of childcare vouchers, which Labour whips were predicting could lead to the policy being abandoned altogether, is another example of the party using Commons tactics to frustrate the government.
Labour secured a three-hour debate on the changes using a so-called humble address in which MPs can “pray against” proposals.
But it was only when Emma Pengelly of the DUP spoke against the proposal that Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the Tory government would keep the voucher scheme open for a further six months.
It’s a classic example of the tail wagging the dog.
The Tories are trying to axe a vital childcare scheme which around 10,000 military personnel rely on to be able to serve their country.
Thousands of front line servicemen and women could be worse off if the government wins a crunch Commons vote on Tuesday.
Ministers also admitted that a further 2,500 civilian support staff benefit from the Ministry of Defence scheme.
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