Posts Tagged ‘childcare’

Childcare needs to be at heart of welfare state

25/03/2013, 03:01:11 PM

by Sarah Rabbitts

When the welfare state was established by the Labour party in 1945, it didn’t include childcare because the role of women was still defined in the home.  In fact, it wasn’t in Labour’s manifesto ahead of the 1997 election either. It must be at the heart of Labour’s commitments ahead of the 2015 election.

Since the 1960s, women’s role in the workplace has changed radically – but there is still pressure on mothers to stay at home because of escalating childcare prices and the gender pay gap. Helen Kersley, from the new economics foundation, confirms that women will still earn significantly less than men, with or without children, and this can deter women from returning to work.

It’s been universally acknowledged that last week’s budget won’t benefit a large number of low-income families. The government has announced 20% tax relief on childcare costs of £1,200 a year for each child from 2015. However, this scheme is flawed and will benefit the better off. The resolution foundation says that only four in ten low income families will receive 85% of the childcare bill from the Government. The foundation’s analysis also suggests that 564,000 low income families will see 85% of their childcare bills paid but more than 900,000 would receive only the current 70% – the rebate which applies when one or both parents earn too little to pay income tax because many women work part-time.

This is a hard message, following the recent announcement that a single nursery worker should be able to look after four babies, below the age of two. Understandably, Elizabeth Truss’s policy was met with concern from parents, childcare providers and industry experts.


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If we want to give our children the best start in life, Europe shows us the way

18/01/2013, 07:00:12 AM

by Robin Thorpe

In 2007 a UNICEF study ranked children in the UK as having the lowest levels of well-being in the developed world. When compared with 21 other industrialized nations in the OECD the UK ranked bottom on three out of the six dimensions of well-being and bottom overall.

A UNICEF UK report into this published in 2011 found that good relationships with family and friends are key to children’s long-term well-being. The report also found that relative wealth was a factor in a child’s well-being. Children who don’t have enough to fit in with their peers are less happy, as are children in households which have seen their income drop unexpectedly, or are uncertain about their economic future. Inequality is at the core of this issue;

“Where parents are paid at, or close to, the minimum wage, they often must work long hours or take several jobs in order to make ends meet and this can impact on their ability to spend quality time with their children.”

Paying for childcare is a significant factor in determining the working life of many parents in the UK. Some people are unable to work because they can’t afford child-care, many more choose to work fewer hours to minimize the cost of their childcare and some can’t find work that fits around the available child-care options and therefore don’t work.

Others work extra hours to pay for their child-care and therefore spend less time with their children then they would like. By comparison many French mothers return to work part-time within 3-6 months of giving birth; they can do this because the French municipal authorities provide subsidized crèches for infants from 2 ½ months old. For parents on low-incomes crèche is entirely free. In addition French municipal authorities provide free nursery provision for all children between the ages of 2 to 6. Most children do not attend full-time at 2; however by 3 most children attend at least 4-days a week.


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