The Government has dismissed calls for a review of childcare in the UK.
Childcare campaigners have responded with dismay and anger after the Government dismissed a petition signed by over 110,000 people calling for a review of the childcare system.
The petition says the UK has “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.”
It goes on: “Without good quality, affordable childcare the ‘levelling up’ agenda will fail. An independent review would explore what the Government needs to do to ensure we have a childcare sector that works for families, children and the economy.”
The Government has responded, saying: “The Government is not currently planning a review of the childcare system. Support is available to help with childcare costs, and the Government monitors the sustainability of childcare providers.”
Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive said the response “beggars belief” in the face of a sharp increase in childcare providers during the pandemic.
He stated: “Only last week, we released private government documents which prove that the government has not only been knowingly underfunding the sector for years, but that they knew this would increase prices for parents and put quality at risk. Any claims, therefore, about “unprecedented investment into the early years” can only be seen as wholly disingenuous.
“Years of underfunding has left this country with one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, locking many parents – and particularly, mothers – out of work, and resulting in an early years workforce that is overworked, underpaid and undervalued.
“The dismissal of this petition is incredibly short-sighted and shows a total disregard for our vital sector. Given the strength of feeling on this issue, not only from providers but increasingly from parents as well, we urge the government to urgently reconsider this indefensible stance.”
Because the petition attracted more than 110,000 signatures, it will be debated in Parliament in July.