Childcare Minister 'to look' at Deregulating Sector
Will Quince MP, who was appointed childcare minister in September last year, has indicated he intends to take a close look at childcare regulation to see if it might be done differently. The minister intends to travel to Europe on a fact finding mission to discover whether there might be lessons for the UK to learn from the continental approach. Full deregulation is highly unlikely, but in a number of areas, the government has indicated it feels that British life is over-burdened with regulation and hopes to reduce red-tape to stimulate business.
There have already been some indications Quince might take this approach; shortly after his appointment it was strongly rumoured that he would be investigating whether child:staff ratios could be relaxed. This was in response to the regulated sector’s ongoing concerns about funding. While it is superficially true that relaxed ratios might allow improved profit margins, the sector strongly felt that this would come at the cost of compromising safety. As a result, just as it did in 2013 when then childcare minister Liz Truss made a similar suggestion, the policy appears to have been taken off the table.
Even so, with frequent reports in the national press that British childcare is still too expensive, the government wants to find some means to alleviate the burden, ideally without increasing central funding, something the Chancellor is believed to oppose. The question is whether Quince will discover new approaches in Europe that could be emulated in the UK. At present it is difficult to see what those might be. The regulations in place might be capable of reform, but the government would need to work hard to avoid creating an environment in which cutting corners is encouraged for sake of profit or reducing costs.
In the mean time, with inflation rising, childcare businesses are having to budget ever more carefully to ensure ends meet. Morton Michel clients in this position should remember to take advantage of the discounts and benefits in our Childcare Club here.