Family Investments look forward to the findings of the Commission, being jointly led by Sarah Teather, Minister of State for Children and Families and Maria Miller, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, due to report back in the autumn.
As a priority, Family Investments believe the government should focus on the following issues:
- Identify why there are local inconsistencies in childcare affordability
- Encourage competition amongst providers in those areas where care is particularly unaffordable without compromising quality of care
- Identify the impact of childcare affordability in determining parent’s decision to return to work
- Provide parents with better information on the cost of childcare in their local area
These are the key issues drawn from on the findings of Family Investments’ Childcare Affordability Report, published in July. The report was based on a survey of local authorities across the country which compared childcare costs across more than 100 local authorities against official earnings data to give a picture of childcare affordability at a local level.
A parent paying for 25 hours of childcare a week can expect to pay almost £5,000 over the course of year, a figure which is equivalent to 18.9% of average earnings. However the report identified significant local disparities in affordability of care and in Stoke on Trent for example, a parent would need to spend just 13.7% of their earnings on care compared to 22.8% in Ebbw Vale.
Kate Moore, Head of Savings and Investments at Family Investments said: “Childcare has emerged as an important policy issue in recent months but the debate so far has focused on the national picture. We believe this Commission has an opportunity to look at the local as well as national issues affecting the affordability of childcare. At present the affordability of care will vary greatly depending on where you live and this is a chance to identify the factors that have led to this situation arising.
“Managing work and family life can be a difficult balancing act. Regardless of whether a parent works as a result of financial necessities or because of lifestyle considerations, employment should offer parents the ability to provide a financial safety net for their family. At a time when the overall financial burden parents face is increasing, employment should allow them the ability to save towards the future and provide for some of life’s major costs such as higher education. It is therefore only reasonable that care costs are fair and allow parents to achieve this.”
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