Good childcare benefits parents, helps child development and supports our economy. UKIP’s vision for childcare is a system where parents, teachers, schools, nurseries, children’s centres, local authorities, childcare providers and businesses all work together to make provision as affordable, flexible, available and as high-quality as possible.
The policies of current and previous governments have been counterproductive in many ways: over-regulation has helped create an acute shortage of places and voucher systems have contributed to pushing up the cost of childcare.
UK childcare costs are now the most expensive in Europe, and among the highest in the world. Costs can be crippling for ordinary families. What is the point of having a childcare system that is so expensive it does not pay to work?
Children from socially deprived backgrounds are adversely affected because their applications for places are most likely to be turned down, especially if parents are unable to pay for ‘top-ups’ such as meals, nappies and so on.
Childcare provision is also complex and fragmented. Several government departments oversee different schemes providing help with childcare costs. Parents may struggle to work out which type of childcare funding system will work best for them. Those on modest incomes who work hard may find they ‘fall through the gaps.’ Parents who are self-employed, agency workers, those on zero-hours contracts or commission are most likely to be affected, as any rise in income may prove punitive, depending on which childcare support scheme has been chosen.
A simpler system, more responsive to families’ changing needs and with integrated sources of funding, must be initiated at the earliest opportunity, alongside proposals to reduce the cost of childcare and increase the number of childcare places, while giving parents more choice.
We will initiate a full review of childcare provision.