There was excitement in the Timewise Jobs office last week as The Daily Telegraph announced its brand new Women in Business panel.
We were thrilled to learn that our CEO, Karen Mattison, has been appointed to the panel. Karen will be championing the need for more quality part time jobs in the UK. Overall, the panel is designed to give female business leaders in Britain a collective 'voice'.
The other panellists include Liz Bingham, the partner responsible for people and development at Ernst & Young; Heather Jackson, Chief Executive of the Women's Business Forum; Barbara Kasumu, co-founder of Elevation Networks (a youth employment charity); Dr Olga Kubassova, Founder & CEO of Image Analysis (medical imaging); Louisa Hogarty, UK HR Head of SSP (food travel experts) and Dessi Bell, Founder of motivational sportswear company, Zaggora.
The panel’s first job was to comment on the Budget announced by the Chancellor last Wednesday. A key change for working parents is the introduction of new childcare vouchers: from the end of 2015, families where both parents work will be entitled to free childcare up to the value of £1,200 (up to a single income threshold of £150,000).
This change came as no surprise as it had been leaked to the media a few days earlier. The initiative had already stirred up controversy, with some commentators worrying that more money has been budgeted for the vouchers scheme, than will be available for poorer families via Universal Credit
In addition, these vouchers won’t be introduced for another two and half years and, in the interim, many families where one or both parents work will remain worse off due to changes in child benefit. For more information, Sky News have produced a useful infographic showing how six types of household will be differently affected by this year’s Budget
Although Karen agreed with other panellists in stressing that any move which helps more mothers return to work can only be good for the economy, she felt that the Government had not done enough to encourage part time work as a solution. This is how Karen made her point:
"I said before the Budget that help with childcare is only half the answer for struggling working families. And it looks like we’ve been listened to - the new employment allowance (which will reduce companies’ National Insurance bill by up to £2,000) is a great and welcome move in terms of job creation.
"However, when the Chancellor talked about this opportunity for business, he said "employers can hire someone on £22,000, or four people on the minimum wage, and pay no jobs tax." He missed an opportunity to encourage employers to think about creating more family friendly jobs, which are desperately needed by mothers all around the UK. He could instead have said “employers can hire someone on £22,000 or create two part time roles on the same budget.” It’s a step in the right direction, but more encouragement around the growth of quality part time jobs is needed."
You can read more about Karen’s contribution and what the other panellists said here. We wish Karen well in her new role on the Panel, and look forward to seeing the profile of part time workers improve – go Karen!