I spend most Friday afternoons talking to parents picking up their children from school. Many of them work long and they tell me it is tough to balance work with giving their kids the best start in life.
The law is only just catching up with how modern families work. Dads want to play a hands-on role in childcare, particularly in the first weeks of a baby’s life. At the moment dads have the right to take two weeks paternity leave, but just half take it as they only receive £138 per week.
That’s why Labour has announced that, if we win the election, we will double paid paternity leave to four weeks and double paternity pay to £260 a week so that new fathers can afford to take time off. This will be paid for by the Government – not employers – using savings from tax credits because our plan to extend free childcare to parents of 3 and 4 year-olds will mean they no longer have to rely on tax credits to pay for childcare.
Another challenge many people face is that of rising rents. Britain faces the biggest housing crisis in a generation, with housebuilding at its lowest peacetime level since the 1920s.
I’ve spoken to many young people in Wakefield who have all but given up on their dreams of owning their own home.
People living in the 5,556 privately rented homes in Wakefield are now paying on average £483 a year more than they did in 2010. They face rip-off charges by letting agents, unpredictable jumps in their rent and insecure tenancies.
The next Labour government will change the law to make three-year tenancies the norm and protect against excessive rent increases. We will ban unfair letting agents’ fees for tenants, saving renters an average of £350 in costs each time they move.
As well as tackling the cost-of living crisis, Labour will tackle tax dodging, which costs British families and businesses billions of pounds. Allegations of malpractice at HSBC show the Government has serious questions to answer about its failure to act, despite receiving warning in 2012.
We will bring in tough new penalties, stop ‘Umbrella Companies’ being used to avoid tax and confront tax havens. Under a Labour Government, Overseas Territories like Jersey and the British Virgin Islands will have six months to publish publicly accessible registers of offshore companies – or face being placed on an international tax blacklist.
Labour will build a fairer Britain by helping working families at home and tax avoidance here and abroad.