4Children calls for Childcare Guarantee of quality, affordable care to lift disadvantaged children out of poverty

12 March 2014

Children Centre Girl

Call comes as new research from the charity shows 40% of the disposable income of an average family will be consumed by childcare costs in ten years time.

4Children, the national charity for children and families, is calling for a guarantee for quality, affordable childcare for every parent of a 0-14-year-old who needs it. A first step towards achieving this would be to extend the pupil premium, which supports children from poorer families, to pre-school children in the budget on 19 March.

In a report entitled The Childcare Guarantee, published today, 4Children also calls for working parents on tax credits or Universal Credit to have 85% of their childcare costs met by the state. As the Government consults on its child poverty strategy, 4Children argues that providing affordable childcare would be a key way to  improve the lives of the 3.5m children living in poverty today, by getting parents back into work or help them work longer hours, and by providing children with support at the crucial early stages of their life. Children who attend pre-school have much higher life chances than those who do not, but formal childcare use remains much lower in the most deprived areas: 58% per cent of families with incomes of over £45,000+ use formal childcare compared with just one-third of families below £10,000.

New analysis by 4Children released to coincide with the report shows 31% of the average family with children’s disposable income is presently taken up by childcare costs and that, at the current rate of increase, in 10 years’ time 40% of the disposable income of an average family will be consumed by childcare costs. In 50 years’ time all of a family’s disposable income would be spent on childcare.

This follows on from research showing two thirds of parents say a lack of available childcare is limiting their ability to work. The YouGov poll commissioned by 4Children to coincide with the launch earlier this year of its manifesto Making Britain Great for Children and Families also found that just 28% of people say they think childcare support is family friendly and 24% said more affordable childcare would make a positive difference to family life.

In The Childcare Guarantee, 4Children is calling a new ten year vision towards a 0-14 universal childcare guarantee for all families, including:

  • Access to affordable, high quality childcare from the end of parental leave until school - building on current free entitlements for 2,3 and 4 year olds
  • Guarantee of 8-6pm ‘wraparound’ childcare for 4-14 year olds in and around schools, including during holidays
  • New childcare hubs co-ordinating childcare in every area to offer parents flexible childcare at the times needed

4Children Chief Executive Anne Longfield OBE said:

Childcare is one of the biggest challenges for parents today who are making tough decisions between children, family and work. Too many parents are still prevented from returning to work or working the hours they need because childcare is too expensive.

Although we are pleased that all the main political parties have committed to incremental improvements in childcare they all fall short of the radical shift needed to make childcare available and affordable for all families.  More ambition is needed to deliver a guarantee of childcare to meet the needs of the modern workforce over the next 10 years.

As an immediate step to begin to help deliver the changes needed, 4Children is calling on the Chancellor to commit in his budget next week to extend the pupil premium from schools to the early years to benefit some of the most disadvantaged children by increasing support into childcare provision.”

4Children’s survey also found 28% of people thought more family friendly workplaces would make a positive difference to family life. As a direct consequence of being unable to afford childcare to support their own working patterns some parents have had to give up their job; others who want to work are prevented from doing so. The high costs mean that the price of keeping a foot on the career ladder for some employees means spending a significant proportion of their wages – in some cases more than a mortgage - on childcare, and often pushing families deeper into debt.

Anne Longfield said:

Our research shows that childcare in Britain is not family friendly.  While the cost of childcare can be equivalent to taking out a second mortgage, the quality of the childcare can also still vary considerably.  If childcare costs continue to rise as they have, this will add to the further future financial pain inflicated on today’s cash strapped so-called ‘Generation Y’ of 19-31 year olds. With record numbers of young people not in employment, training or education, and others in significant debt after funding their studies, many may feel they cannot even contemplate the cost of starting a family.

Today’s 20-somethings, already struggling to find work, will be the new generation of parents. We must put the needs of the family first and have a universal childcare guarantee for all families with children aged 0-14 in place during the next decade.”

4Children would like to see the right to request flexible working and unpaid leave extended to all grandparents who care for a grandchild on a regular basis. It also wants to see it becoming more common for dads to be allowed to work flexibly so they can do the school run and take days off work to look after a sick child. A new commitment is needed to making Britain great for families as thriving families are assets to the economy.”



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