Published on 30 Jan 2013

Childcare split over-stated?

I’m not sure that the coalition is quite as furiously split over the childcare issue as some reporting suggests.

There’s no agreement yet on the detail of how the extra money for childcare will work in terms of where the cut-off should come, but there is agreement that it will not be targeted exclusively at the very poorest families but distributed more widely. Lobbying by Barnados and others on this front appears to have failed.


Nick Clegg signalled he was on board with the idea to spread the money more thinly but more widely in his House Magazine interview:

“What you’ll see in the announcements is: add an additional layer to those that are above that range of existing or developing support – the squeezed middle, Middle England- who deserve help. And then also targets particular help at a group of people who will receive universal credit in the future but won’t receive it on a sufficient scale for them to have an incentive to go into work. So those in a sense are the two groups.”

It’s perhaps worth mentioning in view of The Times splash this morning on Tory ministers wanting a married couples allowance in the budget, that Nick Clegg used the same House Magazine interview to repeat his opposition to such a measure.

The coalition agreement allows the Lib Dems the right to abstain on it if it were to be brought forward. Assuming all opposition parties voted against the allowance that would put the Tories (on full turn-out) at 303 and opponents at 281. I wonder if it would apply to gay married couples if the gay marriage bill became law? Presumably not quite what those Tory traditionalists lobbying the chancellor had in mind.

Elsewhere, the fall-out from the Tory defeat on boundary changes last night rumbles on. One of the “irreconcilables” on the Tory benches told me this morning that last night’s defeat will fire up resistance to the leadership cadre in the Tory Party.

The MP spoke of rebels easily being able to muster the 46 signatures required to get a vote of no confidence in the leader but said the rebels knew that could result in a wounding not a kill. He thought that the point of maximum danger for David Cameron would be 2014, after the local elections and the European Parliament elections.

He said all the Tories in the Cabinet were “tainted” by association with the “failed coalition” and so MPs might look to an outsider as a fresh face for the 2015 election.

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