Reform of childcare and early years provision would provide “economic stability”, claims thinktank
The IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) has published a report claiming that reform to the current childcare framework could reduce expenditure whilst allowing more parents to return to work.
No more baby steps: A strategy for revolutionising child care seeks to “analyse the case for, and core components of, a more strategic approach to early years provision in the UK”.
Due to the rising numbers of women entering employment and the minimal current provisions for paternal leave, the IPPR says that by creating a “universal, high-quality and affordable system of childcare and early-years provision” it would enable the government to meet three core objectives:
- higher employment rates for parents, particularly mothers
- reductions in early childhood inequalities
- greater gender equality
The report researched the Scandinavian childcare system which, due to sustained investment and a flexible approach to working hours, allows many parents to return to work.
The report says Britain spends on average 3.6% of its GDP on family benefits whilst countries such as Sweden and Norway spend less with a more substantial childcare system. It argues that by making childcare and early-years provisions more viable, parents could return to work providing more economic stability for the country as a whole.
Current plans to be introduced by the coalition government under universal credit would give eligible parents up to 85% of childcare costs (for lone parents and couples in which both parents are in work). Monthly limits will also increase to £532.29 for one child and £912.50 for two or more children.
“There is a strong social and economic case for the universal early-years provision. High-quality and affordable care can deliver better outcomes for children, families and society. Universal childcare that is affordable and accessible can enable families to better balance work and care, and in doing so can promote higher employment rates and tackle gender equalities. There is a consensus on the need for early-years provision as a key means of achieving social justice. The challenge is to deliver it.”