UK criticised over lack of child care

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A Brussels commissioner yesterday attacked the lack of government investment in child- care facilities, writes Anthony Bevins.

Monika Wolf-Mathies, the regional policy commissioner, said that during her current tour of assisted regions in the UK, she had found herself in the "surprising situation" of being presented with bids for European finance for basic child care to enable mothers either to take a job or to join work training schemes. She said facilities were "desperately needed ... and they are asking us to fill the gap due to lack of service".

In a speech to the Centre for European Reform, Ms Wulf-Mathies said: "I would like to put a difficult question to you: are a number of activities on the ground - desperately needed as they are - still European structural policy interventions, or do they bridge a policy vacuum which the national government does not address properly?"

And she went on: "Is the organisation of child-care services, the replacement of reduced, public services and utilities, a European or a national task in a rich country like the UK?"