Widespread support for state funding to access childcare

A new report finds widespread support for Government to provide enough funding to ensure everyone can access childcare.

Children at nursery raising their hands


Eighty-four per cent of the public believe it is the role of government to provide the funding and necessary regulation to ensure that everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, has access to early years education, according to a new study by the Fairness Foundation.

That figure is the joint highest of several priority areas, alongside social care. The representative survey of over 2,000 people shows a large majority of voters think that the government should fund a wide-ranging social contract, with social care, early years education and care, public transport and housing being the top priorities.

Support holds up well across people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, incomes and political views. Eighty one per cent of Conservative voters felt the Government should fund access to early years. Twenty seven per cent of participants said Government should fully fund early years, higher than for any other priority service.

An earlier survey by the Fairness Foundation found a general lack of awareness of how low wages are for people working in the early years sector, overestimating hourly pay by an average of 47% (£10.90 compared to £7.42). Two in three were concerned about the costs of early years (nursery/childcare) provision, but many underestimated how expensive it is in the UK compared to other countries. The survey also showed people think workers should be paid more fairly and that this would benefit everyone; 79% think that wages in the early years sector are too low and only 10% disagree.

The Fairness Foundation report comes as research by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) shows there are almost 40,000 job vacancies in nursery, primary and secondary schools, with primary and nursery school vacancies rising by 11.1% between February and March – the second highest vacancy rise per profession [secondary school vacancies were the highest]. REC chief executive Neil Carberry said: “A double-digit percentage rise in the past few weeks to nearly 40,000 nursery, primary and secondary job vacancies shows the scale of the issues with pay, workload and conditions of service among teachers.” He added: “Schools are increasingly struggling to hire as the impact of several years of below-target initial recruitment plays out.”

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