Archive | December, 2015

A (wonky) Christmas Cracker

18 Dec

Everyone loves a Christmas cracker – what could be better than a gift, a hat and a joke to share with your loved ones? So in the festive spirit I’ve imagined a wonky cracker of 2015, with contents from the world of gender and policy this year …..

The Gift:


Like all the best cracker gifts, Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is novel and shiny and looks great, but turns out to be a bit less robust than you first thought. The idea is great, but not enough has been spent on it, so its appeal is somewhat limited. FromApril this year, mothers have been able to transfer up to 50 weeks of leave to fathers, but the leave is only paid at a very low rate, so that not many families would find it affordable. The government estimates that only 2-8% of families will take the option up, while the rest look wistfully to Scandinavia where there are ‘daddy months’ of leave dedicated for fathers’ use only, and paid at a decent rate. The Nordic countries also have affordable, universal childcare – something which even the pledge of 30 hours free childcare for working parents in the UK cannot match. So if we do want more gender equality in care we’ll have to devote some funds for a proper present under the tree in future….


The Hat:

For the wonky Christmas cracker 2015, the only party hat is the hard hat, as worn by George Osborne on site trips during the election, and beyond. His decisions influence the spending, saving and borrowing of all of us. (You can tell he really likes it as the hard hat appears in cartoon form on his Christmas card).


There is an important gender dimension here too, as many argue that austerity measures applied to benefits and public services affect women most, due to lower earnings and greater caring responsibilities.


The Joke:

A mainstay of the Christmas cracker is the silly joke, recently updated for more modern society here. Regular readers will know of my interest in family policy, so from the new list, here’s a reminder that there have always been unconventional families, and refugees in search of shelter:.


 Merry Christmas and a Peace and Goodwill to all men and women!






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