Parliament debates childcare as survey reports costs too high

Working mother picking up child from childcare

Parliament debates childcare as survey reports costs too high


Following an online petition which reached more than 100,000 signatures, earlier this month Parliament debated the commission of an independent review of childcare funding and affordability. Although the government did not endorse the idea, MPs across all the major parties were agreed that access and affordability of childcare is a key concern.

The debate was informed by a survey of more than 20,000 parents, which delivered striking conclusions about the state of childcare in the UK. Conducted with involvement from fourteen different groups, including Mumsnet, the Fawcett Society and the TUC, it sought to collect an authoritative body of evidence that the cost of childcare in the UK is precluding access.

Most notably, the report found that 97% of those surveyed agreed that childcare is too expensive and that 92% found it affected their standard of living. In 33% of cases, childcare cost more than their the family’s housing costs.

There was widespread agreement amongst MPs that the costs of childcare to parents are too high and notably, no speaker laid the blame for this at the doors of providers themselves, who are widely acknowledged to provide value for money. The government however maintains that it funds childcare generously and, Conservative MP Siobhan Bailey for example, pointed out that  a commission to investigated the matter would cost tens of millions and if that money were available, it would be better to spend it directly on supporting the sector.

Nevertheless, Education Minister Vicky Ford, while declining to promise funding, did indicate that childcare provision is a government priority and one that is being taken into account in the upcoming spending review.

The parliamentary debate can be read in full here.

The Guardian’s coverage of the survey referred to above can be found here.