Stay-at-home mum speaks out – Anne Fennell interview
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Anne Fennell, Chair of ‘Mothers At Home Matter’ (MAHM), an organisation deeply committed to strengthening families and supporting mothers who choose to stay at home with their children. Anne reminds us that strong marriages and families are essential to society’s well-being.
Anne talks of the various penalties and stigmas that come with mothers staying at home. She says that “so-called family-friendly policies” are “really about getting mothers into work”, rather than trying to help them stay home to raise their children.
She discusses the importance of policies that enable parents to stay at home longer and highlights the need for taxation that is fair for families, recommending they at least have the option of being taxed as a unit, rather than as individuals. As Anne points out, “GDP doesn’t measure what’s valuable in life,” and families should have the option to care for their children without facing increasing taxes or loss of benefits.
Everyone can earn £12,570 tax-free, but a stay-at-home mum cannot transfer her unused allowance to her husband. The ‘Marriage Allowance’ (MA) only gives £252-a-year cash benefit to basic-rate married taxpayers. Many countries allow transferable tax allowances, but not the UK.
Here, there are significant tax penalties for married couples on a single income. For example, households with an income of £30,000 can pay more than twice the amount of income tax if there is one earner rather than two. This is because a two-earner household can earn £25,140 tax-free, but a single-earner household only earns £12,570 before they start paying tax. The state gives a strong financial incentive for both parents to go out to work.
Anne notes that we’ve devalued the value of a mother at home and highlights the significant benefits of children growing up with both a mother and father in a married relationship, based on sociological research across cultures and time.
She recommends that families write to their MPs to call for support for mothers at home and to encourage initiatives such as tax allowances and fairer benefits that do not penalise parents for staying at home.
At C4M, we agree that mums matter, dads matter, and real marriage matters. We believe that the Government should implement family policies that make it easier for a married parent who wants to stay at home to look after dependent children.