Conservatives’ childcare policies must do more to win over experts
Following Boris Johnson’s victory in the polls earlier this month, discussions are already taking place concerning what this will mean for a range of issues, including childcare.
The Tory manifesto pledged £1 billion to fund 250,000 extra affordable childcare places, including before and after school care and holiday provision.
The manifesto reads: "Raising a family should be the most fulfilling experience of your life. But for too many parents, the cost of childcare is a heavy burden".
The proposed Flexible Childcare Services fund to deliver the pledge indicates that there would be £250 million allocated for the year 2021 to 2022, £255 million for 2022 to 2023, and £260 million for 2023 to 2024.
Another £250 million of capital funding would also be put aside to fund one-off expenditures such as updating facilities with new equipment to help ease barriers that might prevent childcare being offered on site outside the academic year.
Yet, within the policy there are clear shortcomings. The manifesto does not clarify who would be eligible for the extra childcare places or whether they would be left in the hands of local authorities or providers. Incidentally, 250,000 extra childcare places amount to a mere five per cent of the primary school-age group it seeks to cater for.
Much of the pledge is seemingly to be delivered through schools, so it will depend on them being able to open their premises over the summer holidays to accommodate childcare.
The Early Years Alliance was also disappointed with the scope of Conservative promises in the run-up to the election, saying that it falls short for providers who struggle with delivering free childcare.
Boris Johnson has already proposed a cross-party consensus to try to resolve the issues in adult social care, and now with the election over, he could do worse than consider a similar move here and weigh-up a commitment to give a yearly review of childcare funding.