According to the Daycare Trust’s annual Childcare Costs Survey, local authorities are failing to meet their duties to provide sufficient childcare for working families in their area. Channel 4 News has reported that more than two thirds of councils are failing to ensure enough childcare is provided for working parents. In fact just one in five local authorities have enough childcare for parents with children under two, and just one in seven have enough childcare for disabled children – which according to The Daycare Trust, hasn’t improved in five years.
The Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities to ensure working parents, and those undertaking training and education with a view to returning to work, can access childcare. In the Childcare Costs Survey 2013, the newly merged charities the Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute say, the situation is increasing pressure on already struggling families and preventing parents who want to work staying in their jobs.
Chief executive of The Daycare Trust, Anand Shukla said:
“At a time when one in five children lives in poverty, the failure to provide this essential service for parents who want to provide for their families is a national scandal”.
According to Children & Young People Now, Shukla also called on the government to invest more in providing support for parents, since the childcare that is available is becoming unaffordable for parents.
The Local Government Association’s (LGA), David Simmonds told 5 live:
“Councils do not have any responsibility to actually provide childcare. Our responsibility is to work with those private providers, to work with the voluntary organisations, to work with schools to try and increase the supply”.
A Government spokesman has said:
“Ministers wanted to help working families with costs and accessibility, and will make an announcement soon. We are reforming the childcare system so that providers have more flexibility when they have highly-qualified staff and childminders are better supported. Ratio changes, which are not compulsory, will allow providers to have the flexibility to increase pay for better-qualified workers. High-quality providers will be able to expand and more childminders will enter the market – this will mean parents have more affordable childcare. Ofsted will be the only arbiter of quality, removing any council duplication”.
What are your views on local authorities? In your opinion, do they provide sufficient childcare for working families?