On the face of it, the Government’s Budget announcement extending the tax break on childcare costs should be very good news for families.
But the news will only help some wealthier families after the election and it won’t address the shortage of childcare places for one and two year olds. This extra public spending could have been targeted to support those who need help with childcare most.
The announcement has three major flaws:
- it targets help with childcare costs on wealthier families who can afford to pay up to £10,000 a year for a childcare place – to get a £2000 tax break, you have to be able to spend £10,000 on childcare; these wealthier families will now get an even bigger tax break while ordinary families are struggling with childcare costs;
- parents, particularly on lower incomes, need help now and can’t afford to wait until after the general election for help to arrive; why hasn’t the government brought forward help for all parents?
- with the new baby boom, there is a big shortage in childcare places, particularly for parents entitled to a free place for two year olds; the tax break announced today won’t create new childcare places for one and two year olds
The good news is that childcare will now be at the centre of the election battleground in 2015. All parties need to do much more to make childcare affordable so children get a good start in life and parents can work, thereby boosting our economy and our society. 18 March 2014
The government’s proposal to increase childcare ratios to allow one member of staff to look after up to 30 children beggars belief. While the current Ofsted requirements for after school provision aren’t appropriate and could do with tweaking – providers are expected to offer learning and development for younger children the same as in a nursery during term time – the plans are rightly attracting much criticism.
Even in a school environment most teachers have the assistance of non-teaching staff to provide additional support in the classroom.
Children attending after school and holiday provision should be given more freedom to express play but the safety of children is paramount.
The removal of the current ratio of 1:8 to ‘sufficient numbers of staff at the providers discretion’ will not reduce cost but simply dilute the quality of care.
A rethink on these proposals is needed and the views of sector experts and professionals should be listened to. 17 February 2014