Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Childcare costs are soaring across the country, and Haslingden and Hyndburn is no exception.

I know from talking to people that childcare is becoming an increasingly large part of household spending.

Across the UK, childcare costs are the single largest financial burden facing families with young children, with part-time childcare for two under 5s costing around 4.7% more than the average mortgage bill, and for full time care it is around £12,000 a year.

The projections are also concerning, as since 2009 costs have risen by 27% and they continue to increase at a rate higher than inflation – 3.3% this year.

The Family and Childcare Trust is calling on all political parties to conduct a root and branch review of the current childcare system in the UK and commit to a long-term childcare strategy that delivers for parents, providers and children.

The report also recommends a number of immediate steps that the Government could take to address escalating childcare costs and make work pay for parents including:

• Providing free early education for all two-year-olds.
• Extending the pupil premium to three and four-year olds.
• Making sure local authorities meet the Childcare Act responsibilities and provide enough childcare for working parents.
• Increasing support with childcare costs in the new benefit system Universal Credit to a minimum of 85% for all parents.

These are important proposals and I want the Government to look at them very closely.

Childcare is closely linked to a lot of other factors, to social mobility and to the involvement of women in the labour force. We must not think of it solely as a matter to do with household expense, it is much more important than that for society.