Dover and Deal Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke and Labour’s parliamentary candidate Clair Hawkins are at odds over new plans to tax companies and increase maternity pay.
Mr Elphicke wants to see maternity pay increased to the minimum wage to help new parents, particularly those who are self-employed.
Ms Hawkins says that this move to privatise maternity pay and other in-work benefits would be bad for small businesses in the area who could not cope with what she calls the ‘Baby Tax.’
Charlie Elphicke was 'genuinely shocked'
The tax would reportedly see companies paying around £120 per worker into a pooled insurance plan which would then be paid out for workers that need to claim parental pay.
Ms Hawkins claims that the proposal is for a baby tax on businesses that privatise in-work benefits and that the system doesn't need to be privatised to increase maternity pay.
She adds that the move would penalise businesses and is a stark contrast to Labour’s plans to cut business rates in a bid to help small firms stay afloat.
However, Mr Elphicke says that this stance shows Labour is “out of touch” with what people really need and added that although companies would be charged £120 per worker, they would also receive an reduction in national insurance contribution for the same amount which, he says, is not the same as privatisation.
He said: “My proposal is that we increase maternity pay from £137 a week to minimum wage level £220 and to ensure that the self- employed have a better scheme of maternity pay.
Prospective MP Clair Hawkins
“This would make a really positive difference to parents with newborns. The Labour party used to care about hard pressed parents and I am astonished that is no longer the case."
Clair Hawkins has said she will campaign against any move to introduce the charge.
“A Baby Tax would be a bad move for the many businesses in Dover and Deal who are trying their best to keep going" - Clair Hawkins
She added: “I hope there is no truth in these reports about yet another tax from the Tories.
“A Baby Tax would be a bad move for the many businesses in Dover and Deal who are trying their best to keep going.
“Making them pay out around £120 for every staff member they have, really could spell the end for some companies.”
For the full story read this week's Dover Mercury.