Yesterday in Parliament, I demanded that the government recognise that affordable, flexible and high-quality childcare is good for our children, good for family finances, and good for our country. Parents and early year childcare providers in Bristol West tell me that the current system of childcare provision is not working. Parents tell me that provision is too expensive, that there aren’t enough providers in their area, or that they aren’t able to provide the flexible childcare they need. Similarly, state-maintained nurseries tell me how stretched their budgets are, and how frustrated they are that this has an impact on the excellent support and education they offer children in Bristol.
Childcare in the UK is too expensive. If you live in the UK, you have two children and both you and your partner work and earn an average wage, you might spend 55% of your income on childcare costs. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) calculate that this proportion of costs relative to income is much higher than other European Countries such as Germany, Sweden and Iceland (5%).
We all lose out when parents can’t access flexible and affordable childcare. Not only does it prevent parents from working and contributing their skills and time to the economy, it also holds us back from embedding gender equality in our society. And in my speech I highlighted how access to childcare particularly benefits women. It allows women to attend training, go for job interviews, take voluntary work opportunities and re-enter the workforce.
We all benefit from accessible and affordable childcare. And I urge the government to listen to parents and childcare providers in Bristol West when they say that our current system just isn’t working.
You can watch an excerpt of my speech below, or see the whole speech on parliamentlive.tv.