Wednesday 29 July 2020 / 10:30 PM Childcare / Kate Green

Labour analysis finds “perfect storm” of rising childcare costs and risk of childcare providers closing

The Labour Party says a “perfect storm” of rising childcare costs and thousands of providers at risk of closure due to a lack of government support will make it impossible for many parents to return to work.

New analysis by Labour has found that childcare costs have risen between two and a half and three times as fast as wages since the Conservatives came into office in 2010.

Analysis of data from the Early Years Alliance has found that there are nearly 19,000 childcare providers in England that are at risk of closing in the next year.

The Early Years Alliance found that 25% of childcare settings felt it was somewhat or very unlikely that they would be open in 12 months time, meaning nearly 19,000 of England’s 75,000 childcare settings are now at risk of closure.

The sector has repeatedly raised concerns that long-term underfunding from government, and a lack of targeted support during the coronavirus pandemic, will make it impossible for many providers to remain viable.

Childcare has repeatedly been neglected by the Government in its response to the crisis. The Chancellor did not mention the sector during his economic update, and the Prime Minister did not mention it when outlining initial plans to reopen the education system. Parents were also ordered back to the office by the Prime Minister without being given any additional support to access the childcare they need to return to work.

Many families will struggle to access support over the summer, with Labour analysis revealing that spending on children’s services has been cut by hundreds of millions of pounds in real terms since 2010.

There will be further costs or challenges in accessing childcare if families cannot turn to the informal childcare provided by grandparents. A survey by the Department for Education found that over one in four children aged 0-4 used childcare provided by grandparents. Without this support available families will find themselves needing to find and pay for additional support.

Despite some expansions of free and subsidised childcare for two, three and four year olds, many of the most disadvantaged children will not be able to access much of this support. There is significantly less support available for children of school age, which will create particular challenges for parents who need to access childcare over the summer.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: 

“The Conservatives have created a perfect storm for working parents across the country, with a crisis in the childcare sector locking children out of early education and making it impossible for many parents to return to work.

“Ordering parents back to work without allowing them to access the childcare they need is a stark reminder that Boris Johnson is completely out of touch with the needs of working families.

“The Government must urgently provide targeted support to the childcare sector, and ensure that parents can access the childcare that they need.”