So why is spending £1 billion on tax breaks for parents on their childcare bills not a good idea?

There are lots of reasons but here are three:

1) those who will benefit will be wealthier families (except for the highest earners over £150k a year) who are most likely to be able to afford childcare; to get the £1200 tax break, you must be able to spend at least £4800 per year on childcare in the first place

2) those really struggling with paying for childcare are middle and low income families; very few of these parents and thereby their children will be helped by the tax breaks and they need help now, not the promise of a little jam in 2015 and beyond

3) childcare is in crisis – as well as rocketing costs for parents, the number of places is falling as children’s centres, nurseries and childminders close but because of the new baby boom there are growing numbers of children under five who need childcare now and over the next few years. Tax breaks for wealthy families won’t help create affordable childcare where it is most needed – instead a two tier childcare system will be created.

We need government to develop a proper childcare strategy, investing in childcare places that help parents work and give children the best start in life. Not tax breaks for some higher earners. Beware Cameron’s childcare con. 5 August 2013

Britain’s 21st century baby boom is heading towards a childcare crisis.

While the number of births has increased by almost a quarter in the last decade, the number of childcare places is falling.

With births in 2012 at their highest level since 1970, come the general election year of 2015 there will be a massive shortage of free childcare places for two, three and four year olds.

The latest official figures from Ofsted show a fall of 4,913 in the number of registered childcare places in England in the six months to the end of March 2013, with 1,054 fewer registered providers.

The decline in childcare providers has been even more marked since 2009. The number of registered childminders has fallen from 60,915 to 56,166, and the number of childcare providers in non-domestic premises (mainly nurseries) has dropped from 29,458 to 27,931.

Meanwhile births in England and Wales hit a high in 2012 at 729,674 – compared to 594,634 in 2001.

The new baby boom is great news for families and potentially for the British economy. But without sufficient childcare, we won’t be giving all these children a good start in life and helping their parents to work.

This is very short-sighted. With our ageing population, the baby boom offers the chance to support the growing number of older people in a sustainable way. But we need to ensure that children and young people are well prepared for life, education and work in the 21st century.

Parents already face the highest childcare costs in Europe. Now it promises to become harder and harder for them to find a free early years place where they live.

Government and local authorities must act urgently to ensure that there are sufficient early years and childcare places across the country. Schools are already struggling to provide sufficient primary school places and are closing their nursery classes.

Failure to plan is planning to fail. We must not let down a generation who are so vital to the future and sustainability of our country. 2 August 2013

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