In the first week of the campaign, Labour announced a number of family-centred policies. He announced that first time buyers would be given a €10,000 grant to cover part of their home loan repayments in the first ten years of their loan. He also announced a progressive tax cut thanks to which many parents would not be taxed any longer, and through which all parents would face a lower tax bill, on average by €300.
In this, the second week, Labour went a step further.
Being a young parent himself, Robert Abela knows full well the challenges faced by parents. Despite knowing that he would face criticism from some conservative quarters, he has pledged that access to IVF will be easier and that the best medical technologies would be used to ensure that all those who want to become parents are given a chance.
But he did not stop there. Abela wants to sign a new social contract between the state, parents, and children. He wants to provide parents with all the financial firepower to be able to be there for their children.
Abela wants to provide parents with all the financial firepower to be able to be there for their children.
The child bonus has been nearly doubled, rising by €200. He announced an effective doubling of children’s allowance for most families, with a gradual increase of €450 per child. For those parents with low income, he put forward a €200 per child increase in the in-work benefit.
While boosting parents’ incomes is undoubtedly important, Abela has gone a step further. He wants to grant new rights to children themselves. Thus, he pledged that irrespective of the parents’ employment status, all children will be granted free childcare. What started as an employment policy will now become a social policy entitlement.
He also outlined a new guarantee for children. All children starting secondary education will be given a laptop, while all children will be given a back-to-school pack consisting of several books. The one tablet per child policy will also be extended.
The new guarantee for children also stipulates that all children of low-income families will be provided with a free internet service and with one school uniform.
At the same time to ensure that all children have support to take part in extra-curricular activities, a new Labour Government will increase the existing tax credit from €100 to €300. For those parents not paying tax, there will be a grant of up to €300.
For a child from a low-income background, all these schemes can be summarised to mean support that could amount to up to €1,500, excluding the purchase of the laptop.
For other children the support will be of €610.
All together these policies will mean an injection of €145 million. All these funds will go to strengthen our families and help them prepare for future changes.
There won’t be a single child who will be excluded from these measures, making it one of the most socially equitable and universal policies ever undertaken by a Labour movement.