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Investment in childcare is hundreds of millions off what is needed

Joeli Brearley of Pregnant then Screwed had this to say: 

”Today the Government announced £170 million investment in our childcare sector as part of the spending review. Any investment in the sector is very welcome, but with a funding deficit of £662 million in 2019/20 it is a long way off what is required. The rise of the national living wage to £9.50 an hour also means that the majority of this investment will be swallowed up by increased staffing costs. The announcement of 75 family hubs is a positive step towards better support for new families, but they do not tackle the current issues with our childcare sector. Hundreds of thousands of mothers are priced out of work, or are forced to work fewer hours, due to childcare cost and availability. We have the third most expensive childcare system in the world and due to underfunding from the Government more than 3000 childcare facilities have been forced to close their doors in 2021. The sector is crumbling around us. 

£150 million on training for childcare staff is also welcome, but childcare facilities are struggling to recruit as the pay is so poor. Until we can pay childcare staff properly for the really valuable job that they do then the sector will be unable to attract and retain skilled and qualified staff. It’s throwing good money after bad.

Since the start of this year we have been calling for an independent review of the childcare sector which would look at where funding is best targeted to stabilise the sector and ensure all children can access high quality early years education and care. Ministers have refused to conduct such a review, and instead are chucking large sums of money into new schemes without a transparent strategy to show how this will improve the outcomes for all children below the age of 5 years old, and how it will ensure parents can afford to work. There are huge benefits to the economy if the Government were to get this right. The Women’s Budget Group estimates that there are 1.7 million women who are prevented from taking on more hours of unpaid work due to childcare issues, resulting in up to £28.2bn in economic output being lost every year.”  


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