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Anand Shukla, chief executive of Daycare Trust and Family and Parenting Institute
Spokesperson, Department for Education
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The Government needs to help as councils are struggling with budget cuts
The Childcare Costs Survey 2013 by the Daycare Trust and Family and Parenting Institute revealed that two out of three local authorities in England and Wales are failing to provide enough affordable childcare to support parents who work.
This is increasing the financial pressure on struggling families and preventing mothers with young children from staying in the workforce.
Anand Shukla said: “Only the Government can address this situation by investing more in providing support for parents.
“Councils across England and Wales are failing families by presiding over a continuing shortage of high quality, affordable childcare.
“The Childcare Act 2006 was designed to ensure sufficient childcare provision so that anyone could work. At a time when one in five children lives in poverty, the failure to provide this essential service for parents who want to provide for their families is a national scandal.
“Local authorities have a legal duty to ensure a sufficient supply of childcare in their areas, but no doubt their failure to do so is linked to the fight financial squeeze they find themselves in, with ever more austere funding settlements. Just one in five local authorities have enough childcare for parents with children under two, and in one in three school age children. Just one in seven have enough childcare for disabled children – and figure which has not improved in five years.
“This follows recently published DWP statistics that show a third of parents who want to work more cannot because they can’t find affordable childcare.
“With childcare hard to find, childcare costs spiralling at above inflation rates, stagnating wages and cuts to support through the tax credit system, parents of young children are being hit at every turn in today’s economy. Daycare Trust and Family and Parenting Institute is calling on the Government to invest more in essential childcare for families in this year’s 2013 budget.”
It is up to councils to ensure there is enough affordable childcare in your area
A Government spokesperson said: “By law, councils must make sure there are enough childcare services in their area.
“Many parents are concerned about childcare costs. We are reforming the childcare system so that providers have more flexibility when they have highly qualified staff and childminders are better supported. Ratio changes, which are not compulsory, will allow the providers to have the flexibility to increase pay for better qualified workers. High quality providers will be able to expand and more childminders will enter the market – this will mean parents have more affordable childcare.
“Ofsted will be the only arbiter of quality, removing any council duplication. As a result more taxpayers’ money will go to the frontline.
“We want to help working families with costs and accessibility, and will make an announcement soon.
“Our reforms to give providers more flexibility on staff: child ratios when they have highly qualified staff have been welcomed by the heads of Kids Unlimited, Busy Bees, and My Family Care, as well as Sir Michael Wilshaw of Ofsted and Andreas Schleicher of the OECD. New ratios will not be compulsory.
“Finally, in terms of the ‘two tier’ charge that our reforms will hit poorer areas: We’re extending early education for two-year-olds from 20 per cent of them in September 2013 to 40 per cent in September 2014 – the emphasis was on quality when we announced funding for this in late November last year.
“Our reforms will drive up quality to make sure that young children, particularly those from poorer families, get the best start in life and are well prepared for school.”