At last, a very tidy idea from a government. Tax breaks for cleaners.
David Cameron has been in Stockholm getting pally with the Swedish PM and learning how they do things there. Apparently, as well as saunas and pickled fish (insert other stereotypes) they have a system that gives households cut-price domestic help.
The point of this is to free people up from the sheer tyranny of housework so they can spend more time doing jobs they enjoy and are better at. And cleaners and other domestic staff get more work.
Callers to a radio chat show were getting in quite a lather about it. They reckoned it would mean middle class people were getting more middle-classy and that we would end up with an Upstairs Downstairs society where one half worked for the other. I don’t think there are too many people in pinnies and mob caps on the streets of Stockholm.
There were others who thought it was a smack in the face for stay at home mums. Eh? While I admit there is some crossover, looking after children is not the same as doing your own housework. One is an important, significant and difficult thing, the other is boring beyond belief.
But here’s a proper sensible thinking for once. And it will directly help women, both those who choose to work and those who don’t. (When I say choose I don’t mean the eenie, meenie miny mo selection process, I mean that it’s a decision you make for economic, emotional and mental health reasons. And it doesn’t feel like a choice at all.)
Women who work will no longer feel that keeping domestic mayhem at bay is an additional part of their workload. Getting help with it will be recognised as an important thing and not an indulgence.
Women who don’t work might find more work options opening for them. Domestic employment is flexible and, speaking from experience, cleaning other people’s stuff for money is actually very satisfying.
Marriages would be happier. In a previous relationship I was so cross about my other half’s lack of domestic effort while I worked full time and he didn’t the only way to not explode with fury was to employ a cleaner.
Children would get more attention. Imagine coming home to a house that doesn’t assail you with it’s demands – clean the floor, get that sticky stuff wiped up, tackle the laundry mountain, euugh what’s that. Instead of snarling at your kids for smearing and dropping, you could sit down with them and ask them about their days.
So Mr Cameron, if you’re reading this please forge ahead with this policy, you’ll be doing us all a favour.
It's funny. This policy goes completely against my instincts, due to the 'staff' issue. But it is also a genius idea! I'm looking for PT work at the moment and have already told the OH that we won't see the earnings as they'll be going to a cleaner to do the domestics while I'm out. I think it's win-win.
Ellen Arnison says
I understand what you mean. I think the biggest significance of it is recognising how the whole thing, thereby taking it out of the 'female' domain.
Parenting on the Front Line says
I don't see what the stigma is in employing domestic staff. We employed a nanny to look after the children and I got some workplace vouchers towards her, so why not for a cleaner too? If someone else cleaning up my mess and that of my family means I've got more time to dedicate to what I'm good at and enjoy, then surely this is good for the economy. Great post.
Ellen Arnison says
Parenting on the Front Line, Thanks. Exactly, I really don't understand what the fuss is about it.
Domestic Goddesque says
Oh God, does this mean I don;t have to justify the cleaner to DH anymore?? *punches air with fist*
As I've said, what you post makes total sense. As usual.
Thanks for linking up to the Love Politics Blogs Showcase. I'm afraid I don't agree with Cameron on this. Whether you work or not, having a cleaner is a luxury that we can live without (this is confirmed by the terrible state of my house!) so subsidising it isn't a good use of public money particularly when it would only go to those people who can afford to pay for a cleaner in the first place which isn't a realistic option for most people on low and middle incomes.
Essentially my taxes would be supporting someone with more disposable income than me to pay for a cleaner while I work full time and have to do my own. I've got no problem with people having cleaners or nannies (or butlers for that matter) but I think it's a bit much to expect me and other working mums who can't afford them to pay for other people's.
I'd rather see the money used to extend the amount of free nursery care available as that would benefit all working mums and if people then chose to use the money they saved to pay a cleaner they could do that too.