Universal childcare should be paid directly to providers

Universal childcare should be paid directly to providers

Universal childcare, paid directly to providers, would boost the economy and transform the childcare landscape.

Last week, the IPPR released a report claiming that the country would be better off if the government invested in a universal childcare strategy to replace the current benefits packages.

Furthermore, they recommend that the money should be paid directly to nurseries, childminders and children’s centres.

The report claims that, unlike supporting families through tax credits, the government could boost the economy and help families recover from the recession, by allowing over 250,000 parents to return to work and putting £1.5bn back into the economy as a result.

It also claims that paying public money directly to childcare providers would help raise the standards in the early years sector and enable greater support for raising the qualifications of childcare professionals.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), has welcomed the findings, saying: “This is the best way to support families in need and make sure children have the best start in life. "

“Pacey has long called for supply-side funding to go directly to providers so long as childcare settings’ costs are covered and they can invest in quality improvement."

“While IPPR’s report raises some important points around how best to extend provision of care, Pacey recognises the benefits that a community-based approach can offer.”

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), added: “NDNA has long been a supporter of supply-side funding and we agree with the points made in the IPPR report."

“A universal childcare system bringing the complex funding streams together and paying money directly to the providers would make the system more streamlined, efficient and user friendly.  Above all, a universal system should ensure parental choice is maintained so they can have the provider of their choice."

The full report, "The Condition of Britain", is available on the IPPR website

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

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

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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