David Cameron is “alienating” stay-at-home mums with a new Government child care programme, according to a campaign group.
The scheme would see working parents get up to £1,200 a year to help with child care but will only apply where both parents are working or a single parent is in employment.
One critic said the scheme, which is set to be phased in from 2015, was “social engineering”, while a national newspaper described it as “deeply depressing”.
It comes as a Treasury document, which was accidentally published online, suggested stay-at-home mothers were in less need of state help than families where both parents work.
Asked whether the Prime Minister was “concerned” that the new child care scheme was penalising stay-at-home mums, his official spokesman said the measures were “very important as part of supporting those who want to work hard and to get on”.
But Marie Peacock, from Mothers at Home Matter, said: “Those mothers are working hard and they want to get on.
“Hard-working families are not just families with two earners. David Cameron is alienating mothers across Britain.
“We have been inundated with calls from stay-at-home mums who are puzzled and confused by what Mr Cameron is saying.”
And Tim Montgomerie, of the influential Conservative Home website, said: “I believe that children and communities benefit a great deal from having a parent at home in formative years but I also respect the fact that some parents cannot afford to stay at home or are quite simply happier mixing work and parenting.
“What isn’t right is a tax system that heavily subsidies one lifestyle choice at the cost of another. There are two words for that: social engineering.”
And the Daily Mail commented it was “deeply depressing that traditional families are to be overlooked yet again”.
The Treasury document, which was later pulled from its website, said: “We need to focus our resources.
“Working families who are struggling with their child care costs or families where parents want to go to work but can’t afford to are in greater need of state support for child care.”