Leading article: The cost of unaffordable childcare has a cost

Share

It has long been known that childcare takes a disproportionate slice of parental income in London, where the cost of everything tends to be higher than elsewhere, and some of this is offset by London weighting or generally higher pay. But a study out today shows that parents in poorer areas, whether of London or other parts of the country, can find themselves spending more than a quarter of their income in this way. Families in Ebbw Vale and Newcastle find childcare comparatively as expensive, if not more so, than those in Wembley and Hackney.

This evidence that the high cost of childcare is not something unique to London should alert ministers to the reality that this is a national problem and should be treated as such. The Government already recognises the value of good early-years education for the poorest children. It must know, too, that unaffordable childcare cannot but hold back the economy by keeping many people, especially women, out of the work force and curbing families' spending power.

But the assumption seems to have been that parents are not just prepared, but able, to pay for good childcare, and that tweaking the present combination of tax breaks, childcare vouchers and free nursery hours is all that needs to be done. We disagree.

The Government's move to increase the number of free nursery hours for children from the poorest families is welcome, but nothing like enough. One partial remedy, for taxpayers, would be to abolish complicated tax breaks and make childcare tax-deductible. But the best solution would be to increase, not just marginally, but drastically, the number of state nurseries with opening times that suit the unsocial hours many parents, especially at the lower end of the pay scale, must work.

No one denies that good childcare costs money, but private nurseries are closing in the current economic climate, and for many parents trying to juggle paid work and childcare the sums do not add up. If the Government is serious about helping families, it needs to stop tinkering at the margins and create the conditions that make this possible. Affordable childcare, where and when parents want it, has to be a priority.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn