The Chancellor’s childcare reform has been slammed as a “mere token gesture.”

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Start for Life: Chancellor George Osborne’s childcare reform has been slammed as a “mere token gesture.”

According to experts, the budget funding pledge is insufficient.

Start for Life, a £300 million support package for young children and their parents announced in the autumn Budget, will do little to alleviate the financial and emotional concerns of most working parents who shoulder some of Europe’s most significant childcare responsibilities.

The measures were “a token gesture,” according to Maike Currie, investment director at Fidelity International, and the amount pledged was “minuscule.”

She claimed that the measures would do little to help parents achieve a work-life balance or address childcare affordability issues.

“There was very little about addressing the need for greater workplace flexibility and addressing the labor market’s structural challenges,” she added.

The £300 million funding was announced by the Chancellor as part of the Start for Life scheme, which includes money set aside to establish 75 family hubs across England where families will be able to access services in one place.

The Treasury will spend £100 million on new and expectant parents’ mental health and £120 million on family support programs.

This includes £50 million for parenting programs designed to assist parents and caregivers in developing positive relationships with their children.

Ms Currie stated that childcare remains a major challenge for British families, who face some of the world’s highest childcare costs.

“It’s not just about the costs or getting the best care for your child; it’s also about the long-term consequences of a broken childcare system for women, who remain the primary caregivers.”

“When women have children, they often drop out of the labor market and never return.”

We need a truly gender-neutral labor market, which can only be achieved if the childcare issue is resolved.”

The recent widening of the gender pay gap, according to Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, is due in part to childcare and long-term commuting costs borne by women.

“Women have to work flexibly around childcare,” she said.

This may entail working part-time or accepting positions that require less travel or shorter hours, and as a result, they are frequently overlooked for promotions and pay raises.

“It means that changes during the pandemic have the potential to significantly alter the pay gap, allowing more women to work more flexibly.”

News summary from Infosurhoy in the United Kingdom.

Start for Life: The Chancellor’s childcare reform has been slammed as a “mean gesture.”

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for our youngest daughter. I claim the 30 hours entitlement but I don’t use it every week. We use two pre-schools so I bank hours that I can use during the school holidays.

“We couldn’t afford childcare before Sienna turned three as that’s when the 30 hours kicks in. If we had had to pay it would have been around £4.85 an hour and you can’t just book in hours. You have to book in half day or whole-day sessions.

“We make a voluntary contribution towards snacks, which is only £4 a month but the pre-schools rely very much on goodwill.

“Help with childcare needs to start earlier than three. I enjoyed spending time with my children but having to take full time out of work has implications for my career. Not enough is being done to help parents.”

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Start for Life: Chancellor’s childcare reform branded ‘just a token gesture’

‘We couldn’t afford childcare’

Hannah Leach, 37, lives in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, with husband Gavin, 44, and daughters Sienna, three, and Sophia, five.

“We use the free 30 hours a week to help with childcare [available in England to most working parents of three and four-year-olds] for our youngest daughter. I claim the 30 hours entitlement but I don’t use it every week. We use two pre-schools so I bank hours that I can use during the school holidays.

“We couldn’t afford childcare before Sienna turned three as that’s when the 30 hours kicks in. If we had had to pay it would have been around £4.85 an hour and you can’t just book in hours. You have to book in half day or whole-day sessions.

“We make a voluntary contribution towards snacks, which is only £4 a month but the pre-schools rely very much on goodwill.

“Help with childcare needs to start earlier than three. I enjoyed spending time with my children but having to take full time out of work has implications for my career. Not enough is being done to help parents.”

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