Just 3 years ago, we would talk to Ministers about childcare and they would look at us like we were speaking Klingon. It was of no interest to those in power. To go from there to childcare being the main event in the Spring budget shows the power of collective action and we are elated to hear that the childcare sector will now receive a significant investment. Parents of young children felt ignored, but this will restore their faith in democracy so we thank Minster’s for hearing our cry and bridging the gap for mothers from the end of maternity leave so that they are supported to be able to work.
However, we are concerned that the money pledged is not enough to reduce costs for parents sustainably. It is imperative that there is a clear and remunerated strategy to attract more educators into the sector, to retain those workers and to offer progression opportunities. Without a workforce plan providers will continue to be forced to close, and increasing ratios will be detrimental to staff retention, what they need is better pay which will come from significant investment into the sector and into the roll out of the free hours scheme.
The CBI estimates that to do what the government is planning costs £8.9 billion not £4 billion, so we need to see the detail as to how this money is being distributed and we need to know that the government is investing in these new schemes based on the actual cost to deliver them. Free childcare from 9 months is brilliant, but only if there are childcare settings to be able to access this care, without the correct funding there won’t be.
-Joeli Brearley, founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed