Childcare provision was again at the forefront of the news yesterday following a speech by the Deputy Prime Minister, which coincided with the launch of the Family and Childcare Trust report on the cost of childcare.
In a speech to the Pre-School Learning Alliance, Nick Clegg set out the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitments on childcare, including providing 15 hours a week of free childcare to all working parents, for all children aged between 9 months and two years.
The Family and Childcare Trust has also called for all political parties to review the UK’s childcare systems and look at provision and cost. So the issue of childcare provision and cost looks set to remain at the forefront of the political agenda as we get closer to the election.
Courteney Donaldson, Director and Head of Childcare at Christie + Co says: “As we reported in our Annual Business Outlook last month, we know that childcare is a necessity not a discretionary spend.”
She adds: “These discussions relate to the long-term sustainability of the sector. I think that the proposals outlined could be a good crutch to parents and families, but without adequate funding, extended free early years education, could prove to be the Achilles heel to the growth agenda and presently improving economy.”
Christie + Co’s specialist Childcare team deals on a daily basis with childcare businesses of all sizes up and down the country and therefore has valuable insight into the challenges faced in the sector by business owners and parents alike.
Courteney says: “We need to see government working in far greater partnership with childcare providers to determine and more accurately understand what the actual cost of delivering the ‘free entitlement is’ before making promises of extended provision. Adequate funding is fundamental to sustainability and therefore essential in ensuring that providers have the ability to aide and support the government in the implementation of any extended early years education that any of the parties may wish to propose in their manifestos, but more importantly, deliver upon once elected”.
Courteney adds: “All of the areas highlighted in the Manifesto announcement yesterday morning are incredibly positive. However, to successfully deliver the increased childcare entitlements that are proposed, the matter of funding needs to be collectively addressed in partnership between the government and providers.”