A leading childcare charity has urged the government to double spending on childcare within the next five years.
4Children, backed by former chair of the Childcare Commission Harriet Harman MP, is also calling for the appointment of a secretary of state for children and families, the funding of at least 12 months’ paid parental leave and more support for lone or unemployed parents to work or study.
“More mothers are going out to work and paying taxes,” Harman said. “We should listen to their demand that some of their taxes go back into childcare.”
In a report published this week, 4Children said much had been achieved against the Childcare Commission’s 2001 recommendations. However, access to affordable childcare “still remains beyond the reach of many”, with only one childcare place available for every four children, the report finds.
The charity also reports that provision varies considerably across the country. Staff turnover also remains high, among a workforce suffering from “low status and pay conditions”. The average salary for a childcare worker is just £6,100, and 30% of staff in day nurseries have no qualifications.
Urging the government to invest in the childcare workforce and raise the quality of service, 4Children chief executive Anne Longfield said: “The link between investing in childcare and making progress on a range of key policy commitments, including the reduction of child poverty, improving health and raising educational attainment, have been proven time and time again. We know that further investment will benefit society on many levels.”