“Millions of parents facing a childcare crunch”, according to Ed Miliband.

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In a speech to the Labour Party Childcare Commission, Ed Miliband claimed that ‘Millions of parents are facing a childcare crunch.’

He stated that parents are facing a daily obstacle course as they seek to balance work and family life, whilst an average of three Sure Start centres were being closed every single week.

‘All at a time when the number of children under four in England has risen by 125,000’.

The party have calculated that there are 35,000 fewer places now than in 2010 and that costs have risen by 77 per cent since 2003 and 30 per cent since 2010.

Their research also shows that childcare costs account for 22 per cent of the earnings of a person on the average weekly wage today, compared with 18 per cent in 2010.

Around 576 Sure Start centres have closed but the government insists it is up to local councils to decide on their future – all they have done is remove the ring fence from the central grant that funds them.

“The money is there to maintain the Sure Start centre network,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.

He said the government was launching a scheme aimed at the “20% lowest income families”, which would offer 15 hours of pre-school support for two-year-olds in England.

Labour’s proposal is to extend free childcare for three and four-year-olds, to 25 hours per week for working parents, which will be funded by more taxes on bank profits.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said: ‘Today, a nursery place costs 77 per cent more than in 2003, yet wages have stayed still in real terms.’

A Department for Education spokesman said there are more than 3,000 Sure Start centres across the country, and a record 1 million parents are using them.

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4 thoughts on ““Millions of parents facing a childcare crunch”, according to Ed Miliband.

  • November 19, 2013 at 11:25 am
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    Well what a surprise, there are 35000 fewer places now, that’s because owning a nursery nowadays is no way at all to make any money!!! Minimum wage in 2003 was £4.20 per hour, a huge hike on the 2001 minimum of £3.70 and now £6.31, OFSTED tells us how many staff to have, then throws in a qualified teacher and hours of paperwork that must be completed away from the children, combine that with the EYEE 15 hours per week being underfunded, with nursery owners unable to charge any sort of top up fee, I wonder how any of us are still open to be honest????????

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  • November 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm
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    I totally agree Andrew!
    My staff wages have certainly not ‘Stayed still in real terms’ as quoted by Anand Shukla – the ever increasing requirements by Ofsted have had an affect on this as we can no longer afford to employ staff with ‘lower’ qualifications (less than a L3 or above) as, to do so would mean that we would not have the expertise required in caring for, and educating, the children according to their guidelines.
    We also have to employ ‘over-ratio’ staff numbers in order that the senior staff have the time to constantly update policies and proceedures and write ‘new’ policies
    The latest (told to us today via an email from our LA) requirement is that we have a seperate policy on employment of those with minor/exhausted criminal records and for those with more serious convictions, and that we keep a list of those criminal records (which is several pages long and includes acts of terrorism etc of convictions that are not subject to ‘filtering’) and show this to prospective employees in order to ask them, at interview, to tell us whether they have a criminal record which is on the list.
    We are also expected to re-question every member of staff who holds a CRB, every 3 months, to ask if they have had any convictions since the last time we asked them!
    It also appears that they are now suggesting that the new checks by the DBS are no longer to be ‘transferrable’ but that settings should conduct a new one for new employees, even though this was not the original intention of these!

    Whilst it is viatally important that we protect the children in our care, any responsible setting will already be keeping close checks and monitoring of their staff, and this will not actually stop the odd paedophile slipping through the net in some settings – all it will do is make yet more paperwork for hard-pressed managers

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  • November 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm
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    Perhaps the labour party should look at how much the minimum wage has risen since 2003 and compare that directly with the additional costs for childcare – the two are very closley related. Whilst nursery staff should be paid a fair wage this in-turn has to be paid for by the parents.

    One of the fairest ways to reduce childcare costs would be to allow private nurseries to be able to reclaim VAT on expensies as schools can, also to reduce the amount of council tax paid on such business premises – I personally would be able to holdback planned fee increases immediatley if such changes could be made.

    Sure Start centres may well have been a good idea, but by paying way above market salaries they were a non-starter from the outset.

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    • November 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm
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      Andrew,
      Your comments were spot on. I don’t understand why nobody seems to link the rise in minimum wage to a rise in EVERYTHING, not just nursery fees. How do people think these rises are paid for across all forms of employment. And I don’t know about other nursery owners, but when the minimum wage goes up, so does all my other employees wages to ensure there is a differentiation between experience and salary paid.

      VAT should definitely be allowed to be claimed, I just don’t understand what the issues are there.

      And probably another big step in helping keep fees down would be for all tax credits to be paid directly to the nursery itself so that they go directly to where they were intended and not spent by parents. This would keep fees down as it would mean we didn’t have to write off debts. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge a bit of extra Admin to get this done, if resolved having to chase parents for fees.

      Reply

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