Mumdex Manifesto: Mums hit hardest by the increased costs of living while contributing £37.2 billion to the UK economy

Yesterday I went to the House of Commons for the launch of the first in a series of special Mumdex reports carried out by supermarket chain Asda in the run up to the 2015 election. With a year to go until voters take to the polls to elect the next British Government, all parties are starting to target parents to get them on their side. The Mumdex reports are regular surveys aimed at tracking the mood of Britain’s mums as well as their views on today’s political system, whether they plan to vote and what issues will affect their choice of political party. Why mums? They count for 80% of the 18 million customers that shop at Asda every week!

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The single most important concern for parents across the UK is childcare. One of the MPs in the discussion panel quite rightly pointed out that the cost of childcare in Britain does not make it worthwhile to work. Frankly, I don’t know how Britain got into this mess in the first place. The cost of childcare in continental European countries is much much lower and parents can go back to work after having children without thinking twice about it. In Sweden a full time nursery per child costs approximately £250 per month and counts for 4.6% of a family income, in France childcare costs are 10.3% of the family income, in Germany 10.9%, in Spain 4.7% and in the UK 26.6% (which makes Britain the most expensive place for childcare in Europe according to a recent study by the Guardian).

Three testimonials’ mums who attended the Mumdex Manifesto launch mentioned the word ‘struggle’ many times in connection with childcare. The difficulties of finding affordable solutions are huge especially if families do not live near their parents, and this is particularly true for London mums who often come from other UK regions or from abroad.

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The female MPs present at the discussion mentioned the so-called Employment revolution, a series of measures to be implemented by the government to allow flexible job opportunities as well as flexibility within working places. At the end of June 2014 the government will officially enforce a measure to allow all employees in the country to request their employer to work flexibly. You can find more information about this on the ACAS website. In summary this is what it says: On 30 June 2014 the Flexible Working Regulations will be amended. This will mean that the right to request flexible working will be extended to cover all employees after 26 weeks’ service, rather than only those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers.

Happy Mum, happy family, happy country!

Highlights from the research (which polled over 11,000 mums)

ON WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMY

– 85% of Asda Mums agree that women’s contribution to the economy is not valued
– Mums do an average of 10.8 hours of unpaid work a week, saving the state £37.2bn a year
– A quarter of mums will help their kids with the deposit for their first home (or have already contributed to this)

Mums make a massive contribution to the British economy through voluntary work and care giving. If the Chancellor was to account for the number of hours mums dedicate to voluntary work and unpaid care every week, it would account for £37.2bn on the UK’s balance sheet – that’s the same as the UK’s entire defence budget! And this is of course on top of wider contributions mums make in supporting their families, such as helping with deposit payments to get their children on the property ladder.

This is not a surprise! Mums are like multitasking octopuses as we all well know.

ON POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT

– 88% say that politicians aren’t good at engaging with mums or the issues that matter to them
– Two thirds think Parliament would do a better job with more women in power
– 68% agree online petitions are a good way to get your voice heard by politicians
– 65% have signed an online petition
– Half of mums under 30 are calling for more digital ways of voting

Mums are disappointed in the political system. While it’s encouraging that four in five mums say they intend to vote in May 2015, it is saddening that many of these mothers feel their vote has limited power – with only 2% saying they feel represented. They want more honesty when MPs talk about what they want to achieve – and what is realistic. It is so simple but the male dominated world of politics (that only has 3 women in the Cabinet) it seems not achievable. From the report it emerges that mums want to see MPs talking the talk and walking the walk of transparency, wherever possible. And they want to feel that MPs really understand the challenges they face everyday – such as the cost of living, which is by far the biggest concern to our mums. Mums also want political leaders to ditch the traditional forms of communication – such as letter drops and MP surgeries – in favour of faster and more immediate forms of engagements such as email and social media. It is no secret that mummy bloggers are now dominating most of marketing strategies.

ON VOTING

— 82% agree that it’s important to vote to get your voice heard
– 81% of mums intend to vote, although this is as low as 63% among mums under 30
– Policies addressing the cost of living would have most impact on voting intentions for 81% of mums

ON ADAPTING SOCIETY TO MUMS’ REALITY

– 71% agree most policies are centred around a male perspective
– 81% think politicians are not in touch with the modern UK

The specific actions mums want to see are:

65% impose limits on energy/utilities prices
49% raise personal tax allowance
42% improve rights for working families (e.g. flexible working, increased paternity leave)
41% increase tax credits/benefits for working families
41% reduce the rate of VAT from 20%

Food for thought!!

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