Major inquiry into the sustainability of the childcare sector launches

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A cross-party group of MPs and peers are to carry out a formal, select committee style investigation into the opportunities and challenges facing childcare providers.

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Chair of the APPG for Childcare and Early Education Tulip Siddiq MP

The All-Party Parlimentary Group (APPG) for Childcare and Early Education will hold the first two sessions of the inquiry on Wednesday 14 November at the House of Commons during which parents and private, voluntary and independent providers will share their experiences of accessing and delivering childcare.

A panel of industry experts will also give evidence including representatives from sponsors the Pre-school Learning Alliance and National Day Nurseries Association, as well as Ceeda and Mumsnet.

The inquiry follows a lobby day organised by the APPG in July, which saw over 50 parliamentarians meet with childcare providers to learn about the issues facing the sector.

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Chair of the APPG for Childcare and Early Education, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, said, ‘There is clear evidence that the financial sustainability of the childcare sector is at risk.

‘The Government is right to have taken steps to support more children to benefit from high-quality childcare, but the delivery of key proposals are falling short of what is needed.

‘The APPG has been told that childcare providers are closing in ever greater numbers, while others are struggling with business rates and staff recruitment and retention. This situation threatens the future of key Government policies, such as 30-hours funded childcare.

‘This inquiry will aim to bring together the evidence and experience of the sector and make a series of positive and constructive recommendations to support every setting.'

The Pre-school Learning Alliance said the inquiry represents a ‘vital chance’ for providers and parents to explain to parliamentarians the impact of underfunding.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said, ‘After years of underfunding, there can be no denying that the childcare sector in England is now facing a full-blown crisis.

‘We're seeing more and more providers being forced to choose between passing funding shortfalls onto parents in the form of higher fees, or closing their doors for good. 

‘For far too long, the sector's concerns have been dismissed and brushed aside by Government, but with the pressures on providers continuing to increase - not least in light of planned minimum and living wage increases next year - this simply cannot go on. 

‘We hope that ministers and decision-makers responsible for the long-term sustainability of the childcare sector will be listening closely.’

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), added, ‘It is extremely important to help MPs get a detailed picture of the early years sector - our strengths and the importance of getting the right policies in place for children, parents and providers.

‘The fact that MPs want to understand the challenges that are threatening childcare businesses, such as funding rates, increased nursery closures and the growing workforce crisis, is really positive. These issues, amongst others, are jeopardizing the future of Government policies and our sector as a whole.

‘More than just looking at the current situation, and how this is dictated by Government, this inquiry is our chance to set out the vision of childcare providers from across the sector and what the future of early years and childcare should look like.’

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