Chancellor Must Invest £1.75bn In Childcare
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The Chancellor must invest £1.75bn in childcare to help families with the cost-of-living crisis.
- The Women’s Budget Group, the UK’s leading gender equality think tank, is calling on the Chancellor to boost funding for early years and childcare by £1.75bn in the Spring Budget.
- This is the estimated shortfall between current Government funding for the existing 15 and 30-hour ‘free’ schemes, and the actual cost to providers of delivering those hours. The failure to fund these hours at their true cost is at the root cause of high parent fees, closures and poor pay and conditions for the workforce.
- WBG is also calling on the Government to raise the ceiling of total childcare costs it will reimburse eligible parents through Universal Credit, which have not increased since 2016, and to remove the current 85% cap. The average cost of a fulltime nursery place for a child under two is nearly double the capped amount families can currently claim.
- They are also calling for the Department for Work and Pensions to fund the upfront costs of childcare through a grant scheme, to unlock the working potential of over 300,000 parents, and support economic growth.
Sarah Ronan, Early Education and Childcare Lead at the Women’s Budget Group said,
“If the Chancellor is serious about growing the economy and supporting families through the cost of living crisis, he needs to prioritise investment in early education and childcare. Years of chronic underfunding have led to extortionate fees for parents, providers closing down and early years workers leaving the sector because of poor pay. Mothers are being forced out of work at a time when bills are rising, and children are being denied vital early education that sets them up for life.
“When households were faced with unmanageable energy costs, the Government stepped in. Yet each month, parents of young children are paying as much on childcare, if not more, as they are on housing, and we’ve yet to see any decisive action from Government. The Chancellor knows how urgent this crisis is. To not step in and take action now would be to knowingly push the sector towards collapse and families into poverty.
“We all benefit from childcare. It enables parents to go to work, it provides children with the early learning experiences that help them to excel in school. It is a vital public service. The Government must commit to a rescue and reform programme for the early years sector. That has to start with urgent action on funding to ensure the sustainability of the childcare sector so we don’t see more closures, and a longer term bolder vision for early years reform.
“A thriving economy is underpinned by strong social infrastructure and a healthy and well cared for population at all ages. That starts with the early years.”