The last Labour government showed us what is possible for child care and we can and must go even further. Here are my seven top reasons for a campaign for more high quality, affordable and accessible childcare in Bristol:
- Providing childcare has a greater effect on family income than providing money. It has benefits for children’s development and education, which in turn improves their life changes.
- Women are leaving the workforce – costing employers in lost skills and investment in staff training, costing them lost opportunities to progress in their careers and making them more dependent on partners and/or state.
- Increasing female employment reduces child poverty – the tax credits and free childcare for 3s and 4s brought in by the Labour government lifted 600,00 children out of poverty. Many of these will now be sliding back to that poverty.
- Childcare is becoming the privilege of the rich or available only part time to the poorest as part of Sure Start provision. This is increasing inequality between men and women and between rich and the rest of us.
- Bristol has child care providers, networks and an infrastructure to support the development and expansion of accessible high quality childcare. And it will create jobs!
- Affordable childcare allows parents to have more disposable income to spend on other aspects of the care of their children, or on household goods – stimulating the economy and growth locally and beyond.
- Affordable childcare reduces the impact of the unfair Tory cuts to tax credits for part time workers.
Labour’s policy review process is examining how the Scandinavians manage to provide high quality affordable childcare. Some have argued that Iceland is the best country to be a woman in, significantly because of the low cost of publicly supported childcare and of a quality that helps children and gives them fun, as well as helping women to work and to make work fit round their children’s needs.
In Bristol, Labour councillors and candidates are exploring what we can do locally. I am leading work on this, with help and contributions from other Labour activists.
As Bristol West Labour women’s officer, this is something which I feel passionately about. If you want to join the campaign for high quality affordable childcare in Bristol, let me know. Join me on @tdebbonaire or comment on this page for the campaign for childcare in Bristol!