Chancellor lauded as plans to help parents pay for child care are set out

Charity Daycare Trust hailed chancellor Gordon Brown as “the child
care champion” last week after he announced measures to help
working parents with the cost of raising children.

But it called for the measures, which will apply only in relation
to registered child care providers, to be extended to cover care
provided by nannies, who are not registered carers. This would help
parents who work irregular hours or need child care in their own

The National Child-minding Association of England and Wales
welcomed the measures but called for the government to look at the
registration or approval system for informal carers.

The reforms in the pre-budget report will introduce tax and
national insurance exemptions for employers and employees of up to
£50 a week of money spent on child care. Employers will be
able to provide child care by contracting directly with nurseries
or by giving employees child care vouchers.

Currently, employees are exempt from tax and national insurance
only when an employer provides a place in a nursery that they
wholly or partly fund or manage.

Barnardo’s said families with disabled children were unlikely to
benefit from the scheme because of the high cost of specialised
child care and the lack of trained carers to meet disabled
children’s needs.

The chancellor also confirmed a commitment to setting up 1,000
children’s centres by 2008 to provide integrated education, health
and support services for children and their families.

And he promised the establishment of nursery and school-parent
links in 500 communities so that infants can be introduced to early
learning and reading.

Lone parents are set to benefit from new measures to help them back
into work from April 2005. These include one week’s paid registered
child care for everyone on the New Deal for Lone Parents in the
week before they start work.

There will also be an extra £40 a week for the first year of a
new job for lone parents and couples with children in London who
have been out of work and receiving certain benefits for a year or

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