New Clause 2 — Childcare

Part of Welfare Reform Bill (Programme) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 13th June 2011.

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Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Conservative, West Worcestershire 6:45 pm, 13th June 2011

My point is that we should try to concentrate the support that the taxpayer gives into the early hours of going back into work. I would like the taper, and what can be afforded, to be announced annually by the Chancellor at the Dispatch Box, just like the overall taper in universal credit. The country’s potential to support people in those choices would go along those lines.

My second point about the alternatives to new clause 2 that the Department might consider concerns the need to recognise that the cost of child care varies greatly with the age of the child—although I acknowledge this goes somewhat against the simplicity of universal credit. Of course when children go to school the cost of child care out of hours drops dramatically from the cost of providing child care for an 18-month-old child. I suggest some form of annual review of child care support that takes into account the age of the child or children. We should also consider this in terms of the annual envelope, because that would address the issue raised by Kate Green about the predictable fact that holiday cover is an annual challenge for working parents, and reflect the fact that there is that fluctuation for parents of children at school.

I wanted to outline why I do not agree with new clause 2 and why I welcome the fact that the Government are having an open dialogue about the £2 billion that they are putting into child care support, and to emphasise that all families, whether they are on universal credit or not in the benefit system at all, have to make behavioural and financial choices about the world of work. I would like the support that the state gives to encourage people into work to be concentrated on those first few hours of child care.