My Lords, I want to talk about one effect of coming out of lockdown on economic prospects for women. The Government have not published an equality impact assessment for the Coronavirus Act 2020 and other key policies such as the job retention scheme. The Minister for Women and Equalities has said that this would have a chilling effect on the advice given by civil servants.
The post-Covid recovery and the development of many children will be damaged unless the childcare sector is paid fairly by the Government. The government subsidy of so-called “free” childcare places only covers about half the actual cost, and many nurseries had already given up the ghost before Covid. Research by Childcare UK and the Early Years Alliance found that the epidemic could be the last straw for a further 25% of providers and that 150,000 childcare places could be lost. If we want mothers and fathers to play their part in the recovery, we must pay the childcare sector properly and fairly. Will the Minister please commit to looking at this?