Childcare Will Be Treated As 'National Infrastructure' After Major Victory For Campaigners

The move means local councils will be able to fund childcare alongside other vital services like schools, GPs and public transport.
Research by Pregnant Then Screwed that found that 17% of parents have had to leave their job due to the cost of childcare.
Research by Pregnant Then Screwed that found that 17% of parents have had to leave their job due to the cost of childcare.
Mark Kerrison via Getty Images

Childcare will be treated as “national infrastructure” like schools, GP surgeries and public transport after a major victory for campaigners.

MPs have been pushing for a change in the law to recognise the vital contribution made to the economy by affordable or free childcare services, which allow parents to go to work.

Labour MP Stella Creasy tabled an amendment to the government’s levelling up and regeneration bill that places a duty on developers to ensure there is sufficient childcare provision when carrying out building projects.

It means that the provision of subsidised or free childcare for those in school up to the age of 11 will be included under the bill’s definition of infrastructure.

Councils will be able to draw on the community infrastructure levy, a charge that councils can apply to new developments, to raise funds for local services and facilities.

The government accepted Creasy’s amendment, meaning it passed without a vote.

The MP for Walthamstow said the government had been “dragged into almost the right place”.

Earlier, Creasy argued that classifying childcare as infrastructure would be a “win-win for our economy”.

She told MPs: “64,000 more women of working age are out of work at the moment than they were last year and 35,000 of them say it’s caring commitment stopping them going to work.

“So, I rise to move amendment two because our economy simply cannot afford not to recognise that childcare is infrastructure.

“The Centre for Progressive Policy report shows that if women had access to adequate childcare, they could increase their earnings from 7.6 billion to 10.9 billion.”

She added: “Amendment two and unlocking resources for childcare would be a win-win for our economy and for our communities.

“It would be an investment that would save us money. And it’s right the developers pay their part because since 2014, if you compare Ofsted data and ONS data, the rate of population growth outstrips the growth of the childcare sector in 116 out of 149 local authorities, including 15 of the 20 areas with the highest population growth.”

Creasy’s move was backed by the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, which found that a shortage of childcare places had pushed up costs, which in turn was fuelling inflation.

Childcare costs are expected to increase by as much as 19% next year, leading many parents to leave their jobs to look after their children themselves.

The research by Pregnant Then Screwed that found that 17% of parents have had to leave their job due to the cost of childcare, while 62% work fewer hours because of childcare costs.

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed said: “Our latest piece of research highlights exactly why women fall behind in the workplace, and that is because of the punitive costs of childcare. If we are to change the landscape for women, and parents, we need to provide properly subsidised childcare from 9 months old.

“The government have introduced 30 hours ‘free’ childcare for from 3 years old, and tax-free childcare for employees; this is not enough and impacts not only the parents but childcare providers as they are unable to cover the cost of delivery.

“Women only get 1 year of maternity leave with only 9 months paid, so there are two years that they either stay at home with the children because of the high cost of childcare or return to work with a huge bill hanging over them – with many reducing their hours in order to strike a balance.

“Childcare is infrastructure. Our childcare system is failing parents, it is failing childcare providers and it is failing childcare staff.

“We need the government to create a childcare system that works so that nurseries can stay open and provide good quality care and so that we can close the gender pay gap and start to tackle the motherhood penalty.’’


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