Championing Childcare

sarah-champion-mp.jpgSarah Champion MP reports on Labour's plans to tackle the rising cost of childcare.

Picture this. You’re a mum, working full time, with two young children.  You earn nearly £12,000.  You’ve got a partner who also works full time, earning the same as you.  You’ve recently returned to work after having a career break to spend the last two years raising your children.  During that time, you’ve found it hard to survive on one income alone, so you felt it was time to return to work to help bring money in for the family.  

Imagine your horror, then, when you realise that after you’ve paid out your childcare costs and your other bills, you’re bringing home just over £4 a week in additional income.  Just £211 per year.  That’s the shocking reality for many working families under this government, and it’s a reality that should not be allowed to continue.

Recent reports have shown that the cost of childcare prevents more than two thirds of mums working more.  And over 33% of full time mums say they’d like to work but can’t afford to due to childcare.  That’s not all: the figures show that one in five working mums want to take on 10 extra hours of work, but the cost of childcare is stopping them doing so. 

Shamefully, Britain lags behind our international counterparts on getting mums that choose to, back to work.  In the UK, about two thirds of our mums are in some form of paid work, but internationally, up to 86% of mums are able to return to work.  This is a real concern: it tells us that mums who want to work are struggling with getting back to work.  We know that the cost of childcare is the major factor preventing them from doing so.

This government is failing to tackle the cost of childcare, and they are failing women and families.  They’re failing women who want to get back on the career ladder, and find it harder to pick up where they left off, the longer they have been away from the workplace.  They’re failing families, because the risk of child poverty in families with only one earner is significantly higher than for families where two people are working. It’s time for David Cameron to face the facts: childcare costs are the single biggest obstacle to getting women back to work, and his government has no plan to help in this parliament.

That’s why I’m proud of the work Labour have done through their policy review, showing their commitment to women and families everywhere.

Under a Labour Government, mums will see the free childcare allowance increase from 15 hours to 25 hours, which will give them the freedom to get back to work if they choose. We’re also giving a legal guarantee to parents with primary-aged children that they can access before and after-school childcare through their school – from 8am until 6pm – to help parents balance work and family life. Through the policy review, we’ve also heard many mums say that they’re concerned about the quality of the childcare they receive. Labour is committed to delivering affordable and flexible high quality childcare.

It’s clear to me that under this government, women and families are suffering. Labour’s plans will put an end to this, and make sure parents have the freedom to make the choices that are right for their families, and no longer feel constrained by the cost of childcare.

Sarah Champion tweets @SarahChampionMP.

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commented 2016-09-09 13:19:00 +0100
Labour need to move away from framing this issue as a women’s issue, because that perpetuates the idea that it’s only the mother’s work that should be offset against the cost of the childcare. In this scenario, where the parents earn equal amounts of money, it makes no more / less sense for the mother to stop work than for the father to do so. Equating “family/child-friendly” policies with “women’s issues” is counterproductive.

I would like to see Labour campaigning not only for more childcare support but for better regulation of the financial arrangements of companies providing childcare. Where I live the nurseries struggle to recruit and retain staff – they are often well-educated non-native English speakers paid minimum wage, frustrating for everyone involved – while the companies themselves are large nursery chains often paying tax in Jersey. I’m concerned that subsidising childcare without worrying about where that money goes, combined with talking about childcare as if it’s a women’s issue, contributes further to the devaluation of childcare and to women’s wages in general. It would be better to take childcare seriously, to mandate a higher minimum wage for anyone taking responsibility for anyone else’s survival, and then to means-test subsidised provision as well as providing free training for carers.
commented 2016-06-23 16:21:51 +0100
One of the things many people do not seem to know is that the 15 hrs free childcare is term time only. So during the 13 weeks of school holidays (2 xmas, 2 easter, 3 half terms, 6 summer) there is no free childcare. So the parent(s) need to find the cost of all hours of childcare for a quarter of the year. This is another crazy unrealistic part of the scheme. This puts a great strain on families during the vacations and this can be evidenced by the rise in users of the food banks during these periods.
commented 2015-12-09 12:51:03 +0000
I am one of the working mom’s relying on family to make childcare affordable – I’m building the women’s forum in Northfield Clp any support training or guest speakers you would recommend? Let me know how we can support this campaign
commented 2015-08-16 10:59:16 +0100
Part time childcare means that single mother’s still have to rely on benefits to make ends meet. Thanks to austerity and never ending cuts to benefits this is becoming more and more impossible. Means tested full time childcare would be a much fairer system but a realistic figure of the living wage needs to be taken into account.
commented 2015-07-30 18:24:26 +0100
Why should only 25 hours a week be free when in comparable European countries it is means tested and almost free for low income parents full time? Making it free part time re-inforces child care as the mother’s problem, given that women are highly represented in p/t work. Why is Britain so cautious about proper free and full time childcare? Further, why should child care only be couched in terms of the need to go out to work (“hardworking families” etc)? Children benefit in many ways from socialising with other children with all the space and facilities that most people don’t have at home. All parents benefit from a break from their small children too, whether working or not. All those nice activities to do with children tend to cost money, and depend on owning a car, and if you can’t afford them because you are not working, or not earning much, your small child is going to have a pretty limited day to day experience.
commented 2015-07-30 18:16:59 +0100
But why is it considered that childcare is a cost to the mother and not the father? Because men earn more so they are likely to have some over? Or because child care is considered a cost that women should bear? Couching the debates in these terms only reinforces childcare as a women’s problem, and normalises lower pay for women.

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