Blog & Articles

Careers and carers: would some stay-at-home mums prefer to work?

Date: 24. January 2014
Vidhya Alakeson

Camilla is 31. She has two children under five. She currently works five hours a week but she would prefer to work 16 hours. Like her, Rachel also has two children under five. She's a stay at home mum but she would prefer to work full time. But for both Camilla and Rachel, childcare is too expensive for them to work as many hours as they would like.

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After Labour's offer, the political battle on childcare has heated up

Date: 27. September 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

Earlier this week, Labour retook the initiative on childcare with the announcement of a major extension in free care for three-and-four-year-olds. Having been the party that established childcare as a new frontier of the welfare state when in government, Labour’s lack of a clear policy direction over the last year had left room for the coalition to creep in with its proposals. A YouGov poll for the Resolution Foundation conducted before the announcement revealed that even Labour supporters felt that the Lib Dems had better ideas on childcare than their own party. But Labour has come back with force. Will its ideas on childcare help it reclaim the all important women’s vote – a major battle ground at the next election? And will the Tories try to reclaim the initiative next week in Manchester?

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What to make of Labour’s childcare announcement

Date: 26. September 2013
Giselle Cory

Now is a good time to talk about childcare. Costs are rocketing but incomes are not. All the while childcare support has been cut.

None of this has passed by lower income families who are struggling to make work pay.

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To the Point - Protecting our workers

Date: 3. June 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

This post originally appeared on the Nursery World blog

Last week, the Department for Education released analysis suggesting that relaxing ratios would reduce the cost of childcare for parents by 28 per cent. In my column last month, I suggested that the Government must effectively be spending the same money twice if it was saying it could raise quality and cut prices at the same time. So, having seen reports of the Department for Education analysis suggesting I had been wrong, I had to take another look.

Of course, cheaper childcare without a loss of quality would be welcome news for cash-strapped parents. But the sad reality is that it is only possible because childcare workers are so poorly paid and becoming more qualified does not earn you very much more money. 


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Budget 2013: the new childcare support excludes families who most need help

Date: 20. March 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

In a time of austerity, why is extra money being directed towards families earning £300,000, and not those on universal credit? 

The centrepiece of the budget will be a new system of tax-free childcare vouchers (deliberately misnamed tax relief by the government) for middle- and higher-income families.

Of the nearly £1bn earmarked for childcare, £750m is going towards these new vouchers. Over time they will replace existing employer-supported vouchers. As such, they are an improvement: they are available to all families not just those whose employers happen to offer the scheme.

Yet analysis by the Resolution Foundation shows that more than 80% of families that will benefit from this new support from 2015 are in the top half of the working-age household income distribution. They will be able to claim back 20% of their childcare costs up to £6,000 per child. In fact, even families with incomes up to £300,000 will be eligible for support.

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What does the childcare announcement really tell us?

Date: 19. March 2013
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

Before we rush to dissect the government’s new childcare policy it is worth pausing to reflect on the very fact that in an unprecedented time of austerity a Conservative-led administration is proposing to spend near on £1bn on childcare. There are all sorts of caveats and problems with the policy, when it will be introduced and how it will be paid for. But before we rush into all that we should note that today’s announcement confirms that the issue of childcare will remain at the centre of the political arena.

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The case for looser childcare ratios rests on confusion

Date: 29. January 2013
James Plunkett

This blog originally appeared on the New Statesman

The government claims to want to reduce costs and increase quality. It can't have it both ways. This morning’s announcement on childcare ratios should be just the hors d'oeuvre before the government sets out its plans to increase childcare support for parents. According to the latest rumours, it now looks likely that the majority of any new money will be spent on tax relief for higher income households, making this a potentially important political moment. For now, though, today’s announcement merits some serious attention.

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The Childcare Announcement That Never Was

Date: 18. January 2013
James Plunkett

This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post

Uncertainty continues to cloud the government's plans on childcare. Latest rumours suggest they may now delay any big announcement until after the budget. If government sources are to be believed, the most recent plans have been scuppered by a tag team of HMT officials and senior Lib Dems. The Treasury is reportedly worried that childcare costs could soar if the government went ahead with its plan for £2,000 childcare tax breaks - pumping new money into the system without getting a grip on prices - making a bad situation worse. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg and his allies are known to fear that an approach based on tax relief would funnel support to high income families. That would send a very odd message about priorities when low and middle income households have already suffered badly from childcare cuts.

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Childcare tax breaks risk helping the rich the most

Date: 8. January 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

This post originally appeared on The Staggers blog

At present, there are almost no voucher recipients among the poorest 40 per cent of households.
In the week that parents earning over £50,000 saw their child benefit cut, the speculation is that the government intends to introduce tax relief for childcare, possibly making those who were worse off from the child benefit change, better off once again. In the absence of an announcement from ministers, we will not know what the government actually intends to do until next week’s announcement. But the talk is of the introduction of basic rate tax relief for childcare worth £2,000 a year per child.

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