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IPPR calls for universal childcare

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has today called for government to shift spending from tax relief to fund institutions to provide affordable childcare.

IPPR’s report argues that a key Government priority should be universal childcare, made available through community institutions such as children’s centres, rather than cash benefits or tax free vouchers. The report argues for flexible, as well, as affordable, childcare provision.

The report also shows that the UK has low levels of employment for single mothers compared to other countries, and that the biggest ‘employment gap’ is for mothers of 3- and 4-year-olds. Three quarters of mothers with a youngest child aged 3 to 4 want to work, but 15 hours of free childcare is often not enough to enable them to do so.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY, said, "IPPR have set out a compelling argument to build on the success of the current free entitlement which we know almost all families with young children use. PACEY welcomes this bold proposal so long as any extension is funded properly and embraces all forms of childcare – both in home and group settings – so parents can choose the childcare setting that best suits their family's needs.

"PACEY agrees that childcare should be channelled through community institutions, rather than cash benefits or tax free vouchers. But this doesn’t mean just children’s centres – flexibility is also needed in how other childcare settings are funded, for example a home-based childminding business.

"Appropriate levels of funding are critical to ensuring registered childcare providers can invest in highly qualified staff and help to support their continuing professional development. It’s vital that families not only receive flexible, affordable childcare, but that children receive a high quality experience too.

"PACEY would like to see better working partnerships between local government and the sector, building on many successful existing arrangements. Children’s centres, nurseries, childminders and schools all have a part to play in helping to raise standards and offer children and families the best quality of care possible."