Childcare For All slams Clegg’s selfish decision over childcare ratios
June 6, 2013 Leave a comment
6th June 2013
Campaigning group Childcare For All has strongly criticised the decision to drop plans to relax child:carer ratio as a cynical political move, saying that the decision is in the best interest of no-one but Nick Clegg himself. The measure was a key part of government plans to reform the childcare sector to make it more affordable for parents who wanted to get back into work. Currently, childcare is one of the biggest bills that families face, costing about as much each month as the family home. Only American and Irish parents pay more.
Donna Edmunds, Director of Childcare for All said
“This decision appears to have come directly from the desk of Nick Clegg. Little wonder, as the only person who would benefit from keeping ratios as they are is Clegg himself. He knows that middle class Mumsnetters – his core vote – falsely equate regulation with safety. These families may be feeling the pinch, but they can still afford to access childcare. Meanwhile, it’s families on lower incomes and single parents who are being priced completely out of the job market, thanks to the high nursery fees that are a consequence of strict regulation in the sector.
“We must move away from this idea that ever more stringent regulation equates to safety. The evidence from across the world just doesn’t back this idea up. Ratios across Europe are more relaxed, yet quality of childcare is higher as nurseries can afford to pay their workers a better wage. Sweden, seen by many as the most enlightened country in Europe, has no statutory ratios at all, yet Swedish children and childminders somehow seem to make it through each day! “
Ratios were set to be relaxed to enable childminders and nurseries to take on more children if they chose to, which would enable them to pay staff more and charge parents less. As things stand some nurseries currently don’t take on their maximum quota of children, preferring to charge fewer parents more for a ratio closer to 1:1. This would not change. Relaxing the ratios would simply introduce more choice, including more pricing choice, into the market making accessing childcare easier for lower waged and single parents.
Other campaigns have been calling for more government money to fix the problem, but the government already spends in the region of £2billion per year on childcare. Only Denmark pays more as a percentage of GDP, but there the cost to parents is far less. Childcare for All had welcomed the changes to ratios as a truly meaningful, long term solution to the problem. It is very disappointing to know that they will now not happen, all thanks to Clegg’s desperation to remain in power.