Wirral MP raises concerns over chronic underfunding of childcare sector

Margaret Greenwood MP has highlighted concerns about the impact of years of chronic government underfunding on the childcare and early years sector.  

The Wirral West MP was drawing on analysis by the Women’s Budget Group (WBG), an independent and not-for-profit membership network consisting of women’s voluntary organisations, academics and policy experts whose aims are to promote a gender-equal economy. 

They are calling on the government to boost funding for early years and childcare by £1.75bn in next week’s budget. 

That amount is the estimated shortfall between current government funding for its existing 15-hour and 30-hour free childcare schemes, and the actual cost to providers of delivering those hours.  

The WBG say that the government’s failure to fund these hours at their true cost is  the root cause of extortionate fees for parents, providers closing down and early years workers leaving the sector because of poor pay. 

The Wirral West MP highlighted the importance of the government listening to groups like the Women’s Budget Group, who have a lot of expertise in this area, and considering this further ahead of next week’s budget. 

Her intervention came as MPs were debating the matter of the government’s Department for Education spending on childcare and early years. 

Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “Childcare in this country is incredibly expensive and it is having an impact on families right across the country. 

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the cost of childcare in England is high compared with other countries and has risen quickly over time, while the Confederation of British Industry said last month that childcare provision in the UK is at crisis point and that this is exacerbating the cost of living crisis, contributing to labour market shortages and ultimately preventing economic growth. 

“High costs are damaging women’s lives in paid employment too. This week, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that women in Britain are being priced out of paid work and suffering from a growing gender pay gap as the result of a lack of affordable childcare. 

“This is a crisis that the government needs to address urgently. 

“It is clear that we need to see far greater ambition from the government when it comes to funding for childcare and early years. 

“It is vitally important that the government listens to organisations such as the Women’s Budget Group and others who have expertise in this area. 

“The government has the opportunity in next week’s budget to transform the working lives of parents – particularly women – and therefore families, by investing in childcare. It needs to do just that.” 

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