Think tank calls for universal funded childcare until the end of primary school

A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank and Save the Children has called for universal childcare up to the end of primary school.

The report states that free universal childcare until the end of primary school would create an extra £13 billion for the economy, allow parents to either work or increase their hours and slash nearly £2.8 billion from the social security budget.

Stages of this recommended reform would include:

  • extending 30 hours to all three- and four-year-olds on a higher hourly rate and 15 hours for all two year olds
  • increasing funded hours for two-year-olds from 15 hours to 30 hours
  • expanding the three- and four-year-old offer from 38 weeks to 48 weeks a years
  • extending wraparound care from 8am until 6pm

The IPPR puts the total cost of these ideas at around £17.8 billion a year, which would be generated from a combination of savings made by closing existing schemes, offsetting costs against additional parental income, and new tax measures.

New measures, the report estimates, would save parents between £620 and £6,175 a year on the cost of childcare. They would also ensure that nurseries and other providers are properly funded.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “Giving all families fully-funded early education and care for their children is the right policy, both for the children’s life chances and to boost the economy.

“It’s widely acknowledged that our current system is broken. The Government promises parents “free” childcare for eligible two-year-olds and all three and four-year-olds then does not pay providers enough to deliver this.

“Parents and childcare providers pick up the bill where the Government fails. This is resulting in parents having to leave work because they can’t afford childcare, and nurseries having to close because the shortfall in funding leaves them unsustainable.

“Nurseries and other childcare providers offer high quality education and care to our youngest children, spot early signs of developmental delay and support families in crisis. They must not be allowed to reach financial ruin simply due to a government policy that is not fit for purpose. Providers want to keep good staff and invest in workforce training but with the current workforce and financial crisis, they don’t have either the time or resources to release staff for training.

“From April, many childcare businesses will reach a tipping point – wages will increase by 10%, energy support will end and business rates bills will rise again following a revaluation. So this situation must be fixed as a matter of urgency otherwise children, families and the wider economy will suffer.”

Read the full report here

  • England
  • IPPR
  • Save the Children

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