HC Deb 31 October 2002 vol 391 c957W
40. Mr. Crausby

What action she is taking to enable working women to balance work and family life. [76461]

Ms Hewitt

From next April, working women will benefit from the enhanced maternity pay and leave; and mothers, as well as fathers with children under the age of 6, or disabled children under 18, will have the right to apply for flexible working arrangements. Their employers will have a statutory duty to consider their requests seriously. The Government's Work-Life Balance Campaign also encourages all employers to follow best practice and offer flexible working arrangements to the benefit of all working women.

By 2003–4, annual investment in the Government's National Childcare Strategy will have increased to over £200 million, a three-fold increase on the £66 million in 2000–1, to benefit 1.6 million children in England.

Two new tax credits will be introduced next April, the Child Tax Credit, income related and paid directly to the main carer in the family; and the Working Tax Credit paid to low income working people with or without children. These will replace the existing tax credits, and simplify the system to ensure that people get financial support when they most need it.