The Government’s early years strategy risks overlooking
half of Britain’s poor children, who live in
‘pockets’ of deprivation in more affluent areas, warns
a report by the Public Account’s Committee.
Government plans to build Children’s Centres in the 20 per
cent most deprived wards in England, but research suggests that up
to half of children in poverty live outside these areas, the report
says. “There is a danger these people may be
The Government’s view was that its tax credit approach
goes some way towards helping families according to their income
rather than postcode.
The report says that schools are well placed to meet unmet
demand for childcare in deprived areas and in London, but schools
were seen as an under-used resource, with many reluctant to provide
Wide variation in the number of childcare places between
different areas led the committee to propose that a target minimum
number of places per 100 children should being given to each local
Due to the large number of very small businesses in childcare,
the report says that publicly-funded grants should be conditional
upon the provider having a realistic business plan.
The committee found some evidence of professional childminders
not registering with Ofsted – a concession given to informal
carers. The report says this puts quality at risk and threatens
registered providers’ sustainability.
Recent research evidence about the benefits of parental care on
very young children should lead the Government to examine whether
there is a genuine choice between parents working and staying at
home with their children, the report adds.