Monday, 29 October 2012

United For All Ages Calls For Radical Solutions To Childcare Costs Crisis

We are waiting in anticipation for the response from the Childcare Commission, which is looking at how to reduce the costs of childcare for working families and burdens on childcare providers. The commission will look at relevant issues and consider key themes such as ways to encourage the provision of wraparound and holiday childcare, identifying any regulation that burdens childcare providers unnecessarily because it is not needed for reasons of quality or safety and how childcare supports families to move into sustained employment and out of poverty.

There are organisations all over the UK calling for solutions to the childcare costs crisis, here is what United For All Ages has to say:

Substantial extra funding by the government is needed to make childcare more affordable for parents, says United for All Ages. The Treasury must also review and simplify current funding to ensure it is used as well as possible.

The call comes as the government's childcare commission prepares its findings and the Resolution Foundation publishes its latest report, Counting the costs of childcare.

With British parents facing some of the highest childcare costs in Europe, many - particularly women - are finding it almost impossible to make work pay. Evidence from other countries shows that dropping out of work while having children has significant lifetime effects on women's income and on the economy.

United for All Ages says extra tax funding should be used as follows:
 - the offer of free fifteen hours early education for hours early education for all three and four year olds should be extended to all two year olds and providers must be properly funded for delivering this offer.
- the childcare element of the working tax credit should be improved to cover up to 85% of childcare costs for working parents on low incomes. It should also not be reduced for families using childcare for a second or third child - the childcare element of the working tax credit should cover up to 100% of childcare costs for parents entering work for the first six months.
- the tax exemption cap on employer-supported childcare vouchers should be raised to £75 a week.
- a national ‘oyster-style’ card should be introduced for all parents to pay for childcare. This card could include the childcare element of working tax credit and the tax exempt employer-supported childcare vouchers. It would ensure that help with childcare costs could only be used to pay for childcare while giving parents choice of childcare provider.

Denise Burke, director of United for All Ages, said: “Childcare costs British parents much more than elsewhere in Europe because the state subsidy is much lower here. Let’s not beat about the bush - radical reform is needed not more sticking plaster.

"We need to ensure that all the various funding streams are used as effectively as possible through a Treasury review. Then we must increase childcare funding and direct help much better. We must not compromise on quality - better funding not deregulation is the answer."

"It’s crucial for parents, children and our economy that we get this right now.”

 See www.unitedforallages.com for more, including The Childcare Funding Crisis report.

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