Labour childcare plan backed by leading charity

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Ambitious ‚ÄčLabour childcare pledge would see costs capped

9th October 2014 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A leading children’s charity has backed Labour’s proposal to cap childcare costs at 10% of the average income in Scotland.

Labour leader Johann Lamont suggested new tax raising powers – the consequence of more devolved powers – could be used to fund the move – at an estimated cost of at least £35m.

Finland pioneered the system where parents pay no more than the equivalent of £203 a month for public sector child care.

At 10% of £26,700, Scotland’s the average wage this would equate to £222.50 per month in Scotland.

Parents only get three hours a day free childcare in Scotland.

The current cost of childcare for a parent with a full-time job is an average of £163 per week, or about £650 per month, according to a briefing by the Scottish Parliament’s information centre.

Lamont raised the issue during a keynote speech in Edinburgh.

“We cannot make all childcare free,” she said. “But we can make it affordable. Earlier this year my education spokesperson Kezia Dugdale visited Finland, where the total costs any family spends on childcare is no more than 10 per cent of the median income of the people in the country. She saw first-hand the opportunities it gave to their children.

We must not lose sight of the fact that families on low incomes are struggling to pay for childcare - Neil Mathers

“I want the same for families in Scotland. So, let us set the goal of capping childcare costs at no more than 10 per cent of the median income of Scotland.”

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, supported the move, saying access to affordable childcare was vital to tackling poverty and improving outcomes for the poorest children.

“Parents have told us over and over again how the cost of childcare puts up barriers to employment, training and further education,” he said.

“We therefore support the long-term goal of making childcare more affordable.

“One way of doing this is to examine options to cap fees so that childcare is affordable for all, but whilst we recognise the challenges in making this happen, we must not lose sight of the fact that families on low incomes are struggling to pay for childcare today." 

The charity said that its own research showed that, with low income parents, affordability was identified as one of the many barriers preventing them from accessing childcare.

“For those parents looking to study and gain the skills necessary to enter the work place, it is often difficult to take up college places due to the cost of childcare,” said Mathers.

“Save the Children welcomes steps to guarantee childcare places for parents with young children studying at college.

“Parents want the chance to develop their skills to enable them to take up quality work, and mums and dads should be given the support necessary to lift themselves out of poverty and provide the best start for their children.”