Childcare commission to consider cutting ratios for out-of-school care to cut costs

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The Prime Minister is launching a childcare commission today to look at how to reduce the cost of childcare for families and cut bureaucracy.

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David Cameron is concerned that funding streams for childcare are too complex and wants to look at ways to spend the Government’s investment in early education more effectively.

The UK spends more per head on childcare than most other countries, but childcare costs for parents are among the highest in the world.

There is also concern that parents find it hard to find after-school and holiday care in their areas.

Downing Street said that the commission would consider whether adult to child ratios could be relaxed to encourage childcare providers to set up out-of-school clubs.

It will also consider different ways to provide wraparound care, such as those already taking place in academies and free schools.

The Free School in Norwich offers affordable childcare, six days a week, 51 weeks a year and the Mossbourne Academy in Hackney has a longer school day, with some children staying at the school until 8pm.

The commission will be led jointly by children’s minister Sarah Teather and Maria Miller, minister for disabled people. It will:

  • explore the effectiveness of Government support;
  • identify unnecessary red tape that increases costs, but not quality;
  • look at ways of increasing after-school and holiday childcare;
  • look at international examples for different models of childcare support.
  • the commission will report to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the autumn.

David Cameron said, ‘Working parents want to know that after school or in the holidays their children will be looked after in a safe, happy environment that is affordable. We want to do all we can to reduce the cost of childcare for parents, and make sure they can find and afford high quality nurseries, after-school clubs and holiday schemes for their children.’

Ryan Shorthouse, researcher at the think-tank, the Soical Market Foundation, said, 'Nurseries have limited profitability because they have a small, localised customer base and face strict staff-to-child ratios. So they find it difficult to invest in greater flexibility and better quality staff. Though previous Governments invested generously, much more is needed to boost the affordability, flexibility and quality of childcare.

'But we have to face the reality of the economic circumstances. The Government simply will not provide the funding which is needed. Imaginative solutions are necessary. It is welcome they are exploring whether relaxing the staff-to-child ratios, as suggested by the Social Market Foundation, will yield savings for nurseries.'


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