New Clause 1 — Childcare provision

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 8th April 2014.

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Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Shadow Minister (Treasury) 6:00 pm, 8th April 2014

The amendment is perfectly reasonable. I know the hon. Lady cares about this issue and I am sure she would want to see her Government doing everything they can to provide support and to help parents up and down the country who we know are struggling with this important issue. That is why the amendment we have tabled today calls on the Government to

“undertake a review of ways in which changes to the tax and childcare systems could be used to increase the affordability of childcare before April 2015”.

It is a perfectly reasonable amendment and I see no reason why Members on both sides of this House would not support it if it could bring about the changes that parents need today, not in 2015.

Returning to the issue of maternal employment rates, for mothers whose youngest child is aged between three and five that rate is currently 64% across the developed world, yet the rate in Britain is six percentage points lower at 58%, which is the equivalent of about 150,000 mothers not being employed. The rate in Sweden is 80%.

As the interventions today have demonstrated, it seems that Government Members prefer to gloss over the uncomfortable facts and figures that do not fit with their messages when they boast about the record numbers of people in employment, much as they do when they ignore the fact that almost 1 million 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work, a quarter of them for 12 months or more.

The child care crunch, like youth unemployment, is bad not only for families but for the country and the economy. Parents who want to work should be able, and supported, to do so. There have been consultations and numerous announcements—and, indeed, re-announcements —about the Government’s new flagship child care scheme, but we see absolutely nothing in the Finance Bill that will address the spiralling costs that families face now, rather than in 18 months’ time.