EARLY YEARS CHILDCARE
UKIP will continue to fund the current childcare offer of fifteen hours a week of free childcare at a nursery, preschool, or for a childminder, for all three to four year olds, and for all two-year olds whose parent are on certain benefits. We will also honour the current Government’s commitment to providing a new tax-free childcare scheme, worth up to £2,000 for children under twelve.
However, we will amend the voucher scheme in order to address the shortage of places and cut the cost to both parents and the state, by de-regulating childcare provision.
At the moment, if parents want to claim their free childcare entitlement, they must place their child with an Ofsted-registered childminder. UKIP will remove this requirement and allow parents to use any third-party, non-related child carer they feel comfortable placing their child with, provided the care provided can be proven to be genuine. This is intended to encourage experienced parents whose own children have grown up, for instance, or who would like to combine looking after other people’s children alongside their own, to offer childcare. Our plans will also make it cost-effective for parents to hire a nanny if they have more than one young child, or enable parents to club together to hire a nanny.
While parents should of course make their own enquiries as to the suitability of informal providers, in the same way they would check out a babysitter, we will require informal child carers to satisfy the following criteria to benefit from the voucher scheme: –
• They must pass a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
• They must hold relevant household and public liability insurance
• They must not look after more than six children up to the age of eight (including any of their own children), of which a maximum of three can be under fives
• A single childminder may only care for one child under one year old The building from which they operate (unless it is the child’s own home) must be notified to the local authority and be subject to spot checks.
This combination of de-regulation, practical solutions and incentives will reduce childcare costs, increase childcare availability and make it easier for parents to find flexible childcare that works around their working hours and lifestyle.
CREATING MORE NURSERY PLACES
UKIP will make consideration of the necessity to include nursery or creche provision an essential part of the planning process for large developments.
We will also amend planning legislation to ensure planning applications for family housing developments of forty homes or more, without dedicated garden space for each unit, will be required to include a communal play area in each scheme.
Planning applications for family housing developments of forty homes or more, without dedicated garden space for each unit, will also be required to include a communal play area in each scheme.
We will also allow office space to be converted to nursery facilities under permitted development rights. We will also ask employers to pool nursery provisions for all families within the local community, where ever possible. T
ackling excessive regulation without compromising child safety is a priority. Nurseries are often small businesses and we would prefer owners to be focused on childcare, rather than drowning in paperwork.