Tag Archives: childcare

Baroness Kath Pinnock writes…Flexible childcare: Another Lib Dem victory

Who is going to look after the children?

One of the biggest worries for working parents is finding high quality and affordable childcare. It is also one of the biggest barriers, especially for women, to getting back into work.

So, when the chance came to ease those worries by improving what childcare the Government were offering, we grabbed it.

Liberal Democrats, of course, recognise that childcare is a critical issue for parents of pre-school children and successfully introduced childcare for two year olds from disadvantaged families. An increase in hours available for all 3 and 4 year olds was in our Manifesto. So we were in broad agreement with the Government Bill to increase the free childcare offer to 30 hours per week during school times.

Throughout the Bill we argued that this was a great opportunity to extend the free hours to school holidays and outside the normal school day. Parents and providers told us that the school holidays often turned out to be a nightmare to organise and could cost a small fortune. Parents who worked non-standard hours in a great variety of jobs such as nursing, cleaning, social care, and catering told us that they ended up paying for childcare when parents who worked during the school day were able to have free childcare.

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LibLink: Kath Pinnock: Lib Dems have stood up for the needs of very young children

You can sense Kath Pinnock’s frustration about the Government’s Childcare Bill as she outlines how she and the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords tried to force the Government to add some detail into the proposals in an article for Politics Home. It was pretty basic stuff that needed fleshing out as well – like the level of funding available for councils to provide 15 hours of childcare a week. Quality and training standards weren’t outlined – and nor was there even a definition of who was eligible.

Liberal Democrats tabled several amendments to deal with these issues at both Committee stage when debate takes place on the details and at Report stage when the Government is held to account if it hasn’t listened to concerns and made changes. Time and again during detailed debate we challenged the Government Minister to declare the level of funding that would be available. Every time we were told to wait for the announcement from the Chancellor in his funding review in November. And every time, we responded that this was not good enough. We have a responsibility to very young children to make sure there was enough funding for quality childcare. We pushed that to the vote and, with Labour Peers, the Government was defeated.

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LibLink: Jo Swinson: Shared Parental Leave is an important step to the wider cultural change that they need

Jo Swinson has been writing for the Huffington Post about what the Liberal Democrats have done on child care and parental leave.

 Liberal Democrats in the coalition government have taken important steps to support parents with childcare costs despite the challenging economic situation. We extended free early years education to 15 hours a week for three and four year olds, and introduced 15 free hours for four in 10 two-year-olds – those from the most hard-pressed homes. We are also introducing Tax Free Childcare to save working families up to £2,000 per child per year from September.

But there’s more to come. Not only a tripling of paternity leave, but extra help with childcare costs.

We also want to extend free early years education to all two year olds. We know that pressure to budget for childcare costs doesn’t just start when a child is two years old, and that the costs can prevent parents from returning to work. We are committed to bridging that gap so that free childcare is available for working parents from the end of paid parental leave. On average, this will save working parents the equivalent of £2,670 a year.

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Joan Walmsley writes … Disadvantaged children should be prioritised in the Early Years, says House of Lords Committee

Childcare Centre

Liberal Democrats have done a great deal in Government to provide more and better early education and childcare. From increasing the free entitlement for three and four year olds and extending it to disadvantaged two year olds to introducing the Early Years Pupil Premium and helping parents with the costs through tax relief, this government has been on the side of young children and their families.

Two things have happened relating to childcare in the last two weeks. Nick Clegg has made some commitments about what Liberal Democrats would fight for …

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Nick Clegg on the Liberal Democrats’ vision for a world class early years education system

Nick Clegg has made a major speech on early years education and  child care to the Pre-School Learning Alliance. He pointed out that as a result of Liberal Democrat input, an extra £1 billion has been put into child-care in this Parliament and that only the Liberal Democrats would protect that level of spending in the next Parliament. In contrast, the Conservatives would cut it, at a cost of £625 per child. Not only that, but welfare cuts would affect low income families.

Here are the main points of his speech:

Over the last five years, we’ve made it one of our biggest priorities in this Government to ensure that every child – whatever their background or circumstances – gets an equal shot at the successful future they deserve.

Disadvantaged background start to bite early:

 So much so that, if you’re a child born into a poor family in this country, you will already have fallen behind a child with richer parents by the time you’re 2 years old.

That’s before you step anywhere near a classroom and it has absolutely nothing to do with your talent or potential – just the circumstances of your birth. Without focused action to change it, that gap between you and your peers will continue to get bigger as you grow up. So that when you turn up, proudly wearing your new uniform, for your first day of school, you will be well over a year behind your better-off classmates. Morally and economically, we simply cannot afford for so many children to have their future written off like that in this country.

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Nick’s Netmums Q & A on childcare

imageOver at Netmums, Nick Clegg has been answering questions about the new tax free childcare system announced yesterday. He explains the three elements, including the extra help for families on the lowest incomes:

Firstly, if you’re a working family with children under 12, which doesn’t receive tax credits, Universal Credit or Employer Supported Childcare, but both parents are working or you’re a lone working parent, the government will provide 20% of your child care costs up to £10,000 a year.

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Jenny Willott writes… How Lib Dems are giving families choice through shared parental leave and flexible working

Parents and child - Some rights reserved by Ed YourtonAs a mother with two small children myself, I know how hard it can be to balance work and family life. And as a Lib Dem, I firmly believe in equal opportunities for all and tackling discrimination, whatever form it takes.

So I am really excited that with Lib Dems in Government, we are shaking up the status quo to make it easier for parents with young children to arrange their work/life balance however best suits them.

We need to challenge the old-fashioned …

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