The government has rejected a petition supported by tens of thousands of people to review the cost of childcare in the UK. The petition, which gathered 113,713 signatures, called on the government to launch an independent review of childcare funding and affordability.
The issue was debated by Parliament in September, as it garnered more than 100,000 signatures, and the Petitions Committee made recommendations for the government to review and strengthen support for new and expectant parents in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The response from the government was that it “collectively concluded that a formal review is not needed” and outlined existing support for parents and young children.
It came after a survey of more than 20,000 working parents, carried out last year by more than a dozen organisations, found that 96% believed ministers were not doing enough to support parents with the cost of childcare. Data from the OECD shows that the UK has the second most expensive childcare system in the world, with a full-time place costing, on average, £14,000 per year.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA said: “At a time when parents and providers are facing spiralling costs the Government needs to do more to recognise these challenges and properly fund childcare places.
“The Committee’s recommendation for an independent review into childcare funding and affordability would be an important starting point for this and it is a shame the Government have not listened to MPs on this. Following a parliamentary debate in September and another one earlier this year, all MPs agreed that high quality early years education and care was vital for all children to reach their full potential and to support working families.
“Given the spiralling cost of living, higher wages and now business rates which private nurseries will again have to pay from April, the funding rates being paid leaves nurseries far short of what they need.
“During the pandemic, nurseries and their workers risked their health to care for and educate our youngest children. The vast majority lost a huge amount of income. But unlike other sectors such as hospitality, nurseries are not being given any more sector specific support.
“Our nurseries are left in a vulnerable position and are facing a recruitment crisis as qualified staff leave and can’t be replaced. We know there are millions of pounds in unspent money which was earmarked for Tax-Free Childcare. This, alongside other underspends, need to be used to support the sector with business rates relief, an increased rate for the early years pupil premium and support programmes to aid recruitment efforts.”
The Petitions Committee wrote:
“We have the second most expensive childcare system in the world. A full-time place costs, on average, £14,000 per year, making it completely unaffordable for many families. Parents are forced to leave their jobs or work fewer hours, which has a negative impact on the economy and on child poverty.”
The full government response can be read here.