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Labour is calling for urgent investment in childcare to help parents get back to work.
A “perfect storm” of rising childcare costs and thousands of providers at risk of closure due to a lack of government support will make it impossible for many parents to return to work, according to the Labour party.
Labour says its analysis shows childcare costs have risen between two and a half and three times as fast as wages and spending on children’s services has been cut by hundreds of millions of pounds in real terms since the Conservatives came into office in 2010.
It says this and a report by the Early Years Alliance showing nearly 19,000 childcare providers in England are at risk of closing in the next year as a result of the coronavirus and ongoing funding issues could make it very difficult for parents to return to work this .
The childcare sector has complained repeatedly about being left out of Government announcements during the pandemic. Parents are also being affected by the fact that grandparents cannot look after their grandchildren in many cases, meaning they will have to pay for care. The Prime Minister recently called for workers to return to the office in August, but many summer schemes are closed. Some childcare providers also remain closed or are operating on reduced hours and childcare subsidies for nurseries don’t operate outside term time.
Kate Green, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “The Conservatives have created a perfect storm for working parents across the country, with a crisis in the childcare sector locking children out of early education and making it impossible for many parents to return to work.
“Ordering parents back to work without allowing them to access the childcare they need is a stark reminder that Boris Johnson is completely out of touch with the needs of working families.
“The Government must urgently provide targeted support to the childcare sector, and ensure that parents can access the childcare that they need.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “Failure to provide the funding the sector needs in the short- and long-term could mean the closure of thousands more providers, leaving parents without the childcare they need to return to work. If the government is serious about ensuring our economy is able to recover from the impact of the pandemic, it simply cannot let the childcare sector fall by the wayside.”