On Saturday 29th October over 15,000 parents marched across the UK to demand Government reform of childcare, parental leave and flexible working. In Cardiff hundreds of families turned out, sharing experiences of making impossible choices because childcare costs result in a salary deficit.[i]
The March of the Mummies protest demonstrated that parents are furious. They feel as though the Government has ignored them for too long and they are being set up to fail. I am writing to you, as your constituent, to ask that you support our campaign for a good quality, affordable childcare system, which sits with the responsibility of the Welsh Government.
Childcare investment is woefully inadequate. Public spending on childcare in Wales is comparatively low to other developed nations. Other countries with similar economies to Wales have recently invested in their childcare sectors. Canada has invested $30 billion in childcare meaning that parents will pay no more than $10 per day. They have done this because, following a successful test case in Quebec, they found that for every dollar they invested in childcare they got between $1.50 and $2.80 back into the wider economy through increased employment. Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland and Portugal have also recently increased Government investment in childcare and the early years sector. For too many families in Wales childcare is not affordable or accessible and forces many into poverty.[ii]
High quality, affordable childcare is vital infrastructure. Just like public transport, it enables people, particularly mothers, to go to work. Thousands of women across Wales are prevented from taking on more paid hours of work because of the cost of childcare[iii]. 73% of Welsh families who do not use formal childcare say they cannot afford to use it. There are too many mothers who want to work but can’t due to childcare costs and availability – right in the middle of a skills crisis and cost of living crisis.
As our Children’s Commissioner has said, high quality childcare helps children to reach their potential. Every £1 invested in early years education saves £13 in later interventions. But infrastructure – whether its transport, energy, or education – requires investment. Our childcare sector has not been prioritised for investment and we’re all paying the price. Investing in a care-led recovery as part of building back greener and fairer will address the cost-of-living crisis.
As my representative in the Senedd I am asking that you raise these issues with the First Minister, Minister for the Economy, Minister for Social Justice and Deputy Minister for Social Services.