Stay-at-home mother mauls Clegg: One woman speaks up for mums who stop work to raise a family and tells Deputy PM that ministers think they’re ‘worthless’


The Daily Mail


Go you, Laura Perrins. Its just a shame she forgot to call him a cunt at the end.

  • Laura Perrins tore into Deputy Prime Minister on his live radio show
  • She’s furious she will be excluded from new £1,200 childcare policy
  • Former barrister, 32, gave up work to look after her two children
  • She said thousands of mothers feel betrayed by the Government


PUBLISHED: 23:13, 21 March 2013 | UPDATED: 07:24, 22 March 2013


A stay-at-home mother who ambushed Nick Clegg on live radio tore into Coalition family policy last night.

Laura Perrins, who gave up work as a barrister to look after her two children, said ministers viewed her role as ‘worthless’.

Articulating the views of thousands of mothers who feel betrayed by the Government, she said traditional families were being insulted and discriminated against.

The 32-year-old has already lost her child benefit and will not gain from new child care payments announced in the Budget which are only for families where both parents work.

Furious: Laura Perrins with her one-year-old son Matthew at home in south London. She called in to a Nick Clegg radio phone-in about the Government's attitude to 'stay-at home mums'Furious: Laura Perrins with her one-year-old son Matthew at home in south London. She called in to a Nick Clegg radio phone-in about the Government’s attitude to ‘stay-at-home mums’

Mrs Perrins confronted the Deputy Prime Minister with her views on his weekly LBC radio phone-in yesterday, when her son Matthew could be heard playing in the background.

Following their exchange, Mrs Perrins told the Daily Mail: ‘If a mum makes the decision to stay at home they should be celebrated, not denigrated.’

She had told Mr Clegg: ‘I’m just wondering why the Coalition is discriminating against mothers like me who care for their children at home. You probably think what I do is a worthless job.’

Mr Clegg, whose wife Miriam is a high-powered lawyer, clearly floundered as he insisted he does not have a problem with mothers  who choose to give up work to raise their children.



He spluttered: ‘Like everybody I massively admire your choice and you should be entirely free and proud of the choices you make in your own life to look after your own children in the way that you want.’

Mrs Perrins had a successful career as a barrister before stopping work to care for her three year old daughter Annabelle and one year old son Matthew.

She had planned to go back to work when Annabelle was one, but she and her husband decided it would be better for the family if she stayed at home.

Since then, she says the Government has denigrated the role of the stay at home mum.


Shell-shocked: The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the LBC studio yesterdayShell-shocked: The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the LBC studio yesterday

Nick Clegg: ‘First caller, Laura from East Dulwich.’

Laura Perrins: ‘Hello Mr Clegg.’

Clegg: ‘Hi.’

Laura: ‘Hi. I’m just wondering why the Coalition is discriminating against mothers like me, who care for their children at home, with the latest announcement.’

Clegg: ‘Laura, I can hear one of your  children in the background by the way.’

Laura: ‘Yes, you probably think what I do is a worthless job.’

Clegg: ‘No, no, no, no, absolutely not.’

DJ: ‘To remind listeners, this is in light of  the money being made available for [baby cries] oh God bless, what’s the little one’s name, Laura?’

Laura: ‘Matthew, and I’ve a three-year old called Annabelle.’

DJ: ‘Matthew and Annabelle. Mums who get out and go to work can qualify for a tax break. Stay-at-home mums cannot. Back to you, Mr Clegg.’ 

Clegg: ‘First thing to say, Laura: I, like everybody, massively admire your choice and you should be entirely free and proud of the choices that you make in your own life – to look after your own children in the way that you want – and I hope no politician would ever seek to judge you for that or do anything that…’

DJ: ‘Why doesn’t she get the money then?’

Clegg: ‘Can I just explain, this is all about what we can do to give people the greatest choice that they want and they need in their own lives. Laura, you benefit, as you I hope know already, from 15 hours of free pre-school childcare support given to all families regardless of whether parents work or not. 

‘From this September there will be thousands and thousands of parents, again whether they work or not, who will receive for the first time ever, if they come from low-income families, 15 hours of free government-funded pre-school support for their two-year-olds, that’s never happened before. 

‘What we are saying is that there are people – and I’m sure Laura you must have friends and neighbours in East Dulwich, I don’t live too far away from you and I certainly meet people like this in my neck of the woods where I live in south-west London – who would like to work.

‘So that’s the choice that they would like to take, but they can’t because childcare costs are so high. 

‘So what this week’s announcement was about was all about making sure that if you are a parent – a mum, a dad – who wants to work but you simply don’t think it’s worth it because of high childcare costs, you’re given some support in doing so.’

Mauled: Mr Clegg squirms in his chair as Mrs Perrins tears into himMauled: Mr Clegg squirms in his chair as Mrs Perrins tears into him

Laura: ‘Well Mr Clegg, child benefit was a fair way of recognising everybody’s legitimate choice either to work outside the home or to work inside the home. You’ve essentially abolished that for families like me and replaced it with this, which applies only to mums who want to go out to work. 

‘I’ve absolutely no problem with mums who want to do that – there are plenty of my  neighbours who do that and I support them fully. But they also recognise that I do a difficult job at home, and by taking away our child benefit and not replacing it with anything you are clearly discriminating against us.

‘And then, secondly, in relation to the 15 hours of free childcare or the free early-years education, which I knew you would say … that doesn’t just help stay-at-home mums, that is as you know a universal education provision that is for the children, not for the parents. That’s like saying free primary education helps mums, or free secondary helps stay-at-home mums

‘There is absolutely no provision within the tax system to help families like myself, and our family is no doubt a net contributor to the Exchequer. 

‘I just feel that this provision is to bump up the GDP numbers, because if I was looking after someone else’s children that would count as a GDP number, which is all that I think the Treasury care about. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.’

Clegg: ‘I don’t think it’s right to say that you are being discriminated against. 

‘We have always been open about the fact that the specific announcement that the Prime Minister and I made was about helping those parents who want to work but at the moment are inhibited from doing so because of high childcare costs. 

‘And as you saw in the Budget yesterday, there is a bunch of other things that we have announced which will help your family. 

‘I don’t know whether you’ve got a husband or a partner who is in work. But we’re obviously cutting taxes for all basic-rate taxpayers by raising the point at which you start paying income tax to £10,000. 

‘The last thing I want to do is judge anybody about choices they make in their own lives about how they raise their own families. 

‘What I do think is the Government has a role to make sure that people are as free as possible to make those choices and that is what that announcement was about.’

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivering his Budget to the House of CommonsChancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivering his Budget to the House of Commons

She recently joined Mothers at Home Matter, a campaign group launched in 1991 following – in its words – ‘the relentless social and economic pressure on mothers to return to paid work outside the home’. It is run by volunteers and supported by mothers, fathers and grandparents around Britain.

Mrs Perrins said ministers’ language about helping ‘hard-working families’ was ‘offensive’ and implied they did not consider stay-at-home mothers to be hardworking.

‘The Government says that it is supporting hard working families, people that want to get on,’ she said. ‘They talk about aspiration. I find that kind of language offensive and insulting. I consider myself a hard working mum.

‘The language is also divisive. The Government are pitting one family up against another. One neighbour gets help and support while the other doesn’t.’

‘If a mum decides to stay at home she should be celebrated, not denigrated’

Laura Perrins yesterday

Mrs Perrins said she had accepted losing her child benefit payments because her husband Philip, 36, who is also a barrister, is a higher rate tax payer.

But she is furious that she will be excluded from a new policy where parents will be given up to £1,200 a year for each child under the age of five to help with the cost of childcare – but only if both parents are in work.

‘When child benefit was taken away, I didn’t object because we are relatively well off and the message from the Government was that we are all in this together,’ she said.

‘But now we have this new provision for child care and it is stay-at-home mums who lose out again. It is wrong to single out one set of parents as being more worthy than another.

‘Most families are doing all they can to muddle through because things are very tight at the moment.’

She said the new policy sent out a message that staying at home to raise your children was ‘the lazy option’.

‘When a government puts in a policy like that there’s a slow change in culture where staying at home is seen as the lazy option,’ she said.

‘It’s a cultural thing. It’s a general feeling that we are starting to get from the Government. People now feel they can say “why should I pay for you to stay at home?”

‘This has been going on for years. I remember when Cherie Blair criticised stay at home mothers calling them helicopter mums who hover over their kids. People shouldn’t be criticising other people’s choices.

Nick Clegg and Sayeeda Warsi arrive for a pre-Budget cabinet meeting in Downing Street on WednesdayNick Clegg and Sayeeda Warsi arrive for a pre-Budget Cabinet meeting in Downing Street on Wednesday

500,000 families

‘Nick Clegg and the Government need to realise that they are people in power and what they say gets noticed.

‘Mums who stay at home are working hard, mums who go out to work are also working hard and it is wrong to discriminate against one in favour of the other.’

Under plans unveiled in the Budget on Wednesday, families will only benefit from the generous new deal, which will come into force in 2015, if ‘all parents’ have a job. If one parent works but the other stays at home looking after their young children, they will get nothing.

It is the second time in just a few months that the Government has triggered controversy with its changes to the tax and benefit systems, which appear to penalise stay-at-home mothers.

As a result of the recent child benefit changes, a couple can both earn £50,000 and keep their child benefit, worth £1,752 a year for two children.

But a couple where one parent earns £60,000 and the other earns nothing – but have a far lower joint income – do not get a penny.

Again, this week’s initiative favours those couples where both parents go out to work. It will even benefit parents who each earn a salary of £149,999.

Mothers at Home Matter – which has a website – is campaigning for changes in the tax and benefits system and employment policy to give women more choice, and to enhance the status and self-esteem of stay-at-home mothers.

It is funded entirely by membership fees and donations and has no political or religious affiliations.

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