Press Release: Grassroots childcare campaign Childcare for All lends support to Government motion in today’s House of Commons vote

Press Release – 10th June 2013.

 

With MPs due to vote on the Children and Families Bill later today, campaign group Childcare for All hopes that the Government will have full support across the benches for its efforts to change childcare regulations for the better. We want to see childcare becoming more affordable and more accessible to all regardless of income, and believe that the changes proposed will do that. 

Last week, the amendments to child:carer ratios were vetoed by Clegg in a cynical political move designed to shore up his support with middle class mums. Childcare for All urges MPs not to play political games with what is, for many low income and single parent families, one of the most difficult issues they have to struggle with day to day.

 

Campaign director Donna Edmunds, a single mother herself said:


“We were very disappointed last week to see the changes to ratios overturned, as there is good evidence that the proposed changes would have made childcare cheaper and of better quality. To Honourable Members the issue may well present an opportunity to indulge in political point scoring. But for millions of women across the country who have had to put their careers on hold, perhaps indefinitely, for their children, the problems that the changes to ratios set to address were very real.

“Nonetheless, we look forward to the proposals for childminder agencies having the full support of the House today. Childminders can offer a warmer, more home-like setting for children who find it difficult to adapt to nurseries, yet their numbers have halved in the last two decades thanks to nothing more than bureaucracy. We welcome any move designed to bring more people into the profession, and making it easier to start a childminding business, by handing the paperwork over to agencies, is an excellent idea.

“Finally, we warmly welcome the end of duplicate inspections and trust that this will gain support from MPs. It is madness that a childminder is inspected by both Ofsted and the local authority, all the more so because the local authority is taking money designed to be spent on educating our children to undertake the assessments. Parents simply want to know that the childminder they send their children to is well qualified and caring. It doesn’t take two authorities, sometimes offering contradictory remarks, to find that out.”

 

The original bill included a provision to bring child:carer ratios in line with other European countries such as France and Germany, where staff are paid better and parents pay less. Sweden has no regulation at all concerning staff ratios. 

The current bill still includes provision to create childminder agencies, with the agency having responsibility for the business side of childminding, including matching parents with a suitably qualified childminder in their area. This would also have practical benefits such as being able to offer cover for childminders who fall ill. Currently, parents are left in the lurch and have to find alternate provision at short notice.

It also ends the unnecessary duplication of inspections by Ofsted and local authorities, by handing the responsibility solely to Ofsted. Some £160m a year earmarked for education for three and four year olds is currently retained by local authorities, in part to pay for inspections of local childminders, despite Ofsted already carrying out inspections. This has meant some childminders attempting to satisfy contradictory requests from the two authorities, and adds costs to the childminder. 

/ ENDS

Childcare For All slams Clegg’s selfish decision over childcare ratios

PRESS RELEASE

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.

 

/ ENDS

New campaign “Childcare For All: Personalised, High quality and Affordable” launches today

PRESS RELEASE

 3 June 2013

 

Today sees the launch of “Childcare For All”, a campaign to make childcare more affordable through sensible scaling back of industry regulations.

As the amount of regulation the industry has to comply with has increased dramatically over the last decade, so costs have risen for both parents and government. Parents in the UK pay an out an estimated 28% of family income, exceeded in only the USA and Ireland, whilst the government subsidises childcare to the tune of 1.1% of GDP, or around £2billion. Only the Danish government pays more, but there, parents pay vastly less at around 11% of family income.

Childcare For All will be calling for the government to follow through on proposals to scale back on regulation of the childcare industry in order to bring these costs down. Making childcare affordable will require providing more flexibility and a reduction in the centralisation that has gone on in recent years. As a start we would like to see the legal ratios of children to carers increased. This will allow childcare providers to spread fixed costs over a larger client base, bringing costs down by up to 28%.

 

Donna Edmunds, the Director of Childcare For All, said:

“Most campaigners want this system to become even more complicated and for the government to take even more from us in taxes to fund childcare. But I’m launching Childcare for All to advocate for a different solution: make the provision of childcare cheaper for the child minders and nurseries, allowing them to pass savings on to parents. It’s government interference that has pushed up the price of childcare turning into something only the wealthy can afford.

 “As a single mother living in the South East, I would need to earn around £40,000 a year to cover household expenditure and full time childcare outright. The system of tax credits and free provision with its conditions and tapers is fiendishly complicated making it almost impossible to work out how much someone on any given wage.

 “Childcare shouldn’t be a luxury, it’s a necessity. But every parent wants the very best for their children, and simply won’t send their child to a nursery suspected of offering below-par care. The government could make things easier for parents by releasing statistics on providers, allowing parents to make like for like comparisons when choosing a childcare provider.”

 

/ENDS