The Government has recently unveiled three high profile childcare policies.
- Free nursery places for disadvantaged two year olds.
- Childcare providers will be able to change carer-child ratios so one adult can care for six two-year olds, instead of the current four children – and one adult can care for four one year olds, instead of the current three. These proposals have been met with virtually unanimous opposition from the childcare profession.
- From 2015 working families will receive vouchers to fund up to 20% of their childcare costs.
Labour Friends of Sure Start believes that all three of these policies are deeply flawed.
The Government funded its nursery places commitment by slashing Sure Start. It has compounded this dreadful decision by making an utter mess of its own policy.
The nursery places policy is critically under-funded. This is having a devastating ripple effect. Rather than investing the necessary amount, the Government is dangerously deregulating the sector.
The ratios plan is outrageous and utterly incoherent. But this is only the tip of the ice-berg: the Government’s whole agenda is to reduce quality and care in order to shoe-horn ever more babies into nurseries.
In the longer term the Government’s childcare voucher scheme will collapse under the inflation it creates. The only long term solution to the childcare crisis is to invest in nursery capacity.
Sure Start should never have been slashed but it is a tragedy that it has been slashed to fund such incompetence and incoherence.
Please read our full briefing on the Government plans.