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Parents, early years professionals and others with an interest in childcare are being urged to come forward with their ideas to help improve the accessibility and affordability of childcare.
The childcare commission – which was announced by the Prime Minister last month and is led by ministers Sarah Teather and Maria Miller – is calling for evidence and ideas on how to make childcare more affordable for working families and reduce any unnecessary burdens on providers. The commission is especially interested in finding ways to improve the availability of provision before and after regular school hours and during school holidays.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I know hard-working families are struggling with the costs of childcare at the moment and we are determined to do more to help; that is why we launched the affordable childcare commission. The commission is asking for views from the public, and I urge the everyday experts - the parents, childminders and nursery owners - to get in touch with ideas for how we can make the system better and more affordable.”
Sarah Teather, Minister for Children and Families, said: "I know at this time of year that parents across the country are concerned about holiday childcare cover. They want an affordable and high quality service.
"Early education can help children advance and catch up, and help them prepare for school. It’s one of the most important and powerful factors in determining a child’s future.
"So it’s really important that we get this right and I hope we will receive many strong and fruitful ideas."
While Maria Miller, work and pensions minister, is calling for “parents and providers to work with us to overhaul the current system of support to make it more effective in supporting families juggle work and family life”.
The commission is looking at:
• Ways to encourage out of hours provision, so that parents are able to access care for their child when they need it
• Identifying any regulation that is not needed to ensure safety or quality
• How childcare helps to get parents into work and out of poverty
In total the Government invests around £5bn each year in early education and childcare
Investment in the free early education entitlement is around £2 billion each year.
In addition the Government invests nearly £2bn each year to help parents with the cost of childcare, mostly through Working Tax Credit. Further financial support of around £800m is provided through tax and national insurance relief on childcare vouchers, directly contracted childcare and workplace nurseries (administered by employers).
The call for evidence runs from until 31 August. The commission will report to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister in the autumn.