Marriage tax break 'hits women'

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wedding rings

The Government wants to take money from women's purses and put it into men's wallets, Labour's equality spokeswoman claimed today.

Gloria De Piero opened an Opposition Day debate on women and equality by arguing the Government is making it harder for women to work.

And the shadow equality minister attacked the Conservatives' flagship policy to introduce a marriage tax allowance.

She said: "It won't even benefit most married couples. In five out of six couples, this will represent a transfer from the purse to the wallet.

"Money to the married man on his third wife, while the single mum left behind to bring up the kids won't get anything at all.

"This Government is taking a lot away from the purse to put a little bit back in the wallet. It matters not simply for women's lives and women's equality, increasing women's employment helped the last Labour government lift over a million children out of poverty.

"But all this progress is now at risk."

Labour's motion calls on the Government to support more women into work by extending free nursery places for three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week for parents at work, provide a legal guarantee for 8am-6pm breakfast and afterschool club childcare, and bring in Make Work Pay contracts to provide a 12 months tax rebate for firms which sign up to pay the living wage.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Nicky Morgan, however, said that women were better off under the coalition than under Labour.

Evoking the spirit of Conservative former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, she repeated her famous quote: "If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."

Ms Morgan said it was her favourite quote.

She told the Commons: "There are more women in work than ever before.

"And since the Government came to power there are nearly 450,000 more women in employment and nearly 300,000 women are economically inactive and we should be celebrating the fact that there are so many women now in the labour market."

Ms Morgan said "not only are there more women in the workplace, the pay gap is shrinking, having fallen by nearly 1% last year so it now sits at just 9.6%."

Conservative backbencher George Hollingberry said that the coalition had helped to end the "cliff edge" of part-time work for women.

Turning to Ms Morgan, he asked: "Would you agree with me that one thing this Government has done, is look at how households work, looked at how income comes into them and recognise that there is a real cliff edge at 16 hours' of work, which means that incomes drop away or, rather, every pound that you earn, 95p gets taken away in reduced benefits.

"This is a fundamental change that will change the position of women and allow them to take full-time work, something that the party opposite failed to deal with in their entire 13 years."

But according to Labour MP for Feltham and Heston Seema Malhotra of the new jobs created since 2010: "63% of jobs that have been created have gone to men and 37% to women".

Labour's motion was defeated with 284 votes against 229, a majority of 55.

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