Stockport Express Column – March 2016

For many working parents, the cost of childcare is absolutely horrendous.

I recently received two emails from local parents who are wondering when they will receive the much trumpeted 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds promised long ago by the Government.

They said they were ‘desperate’ for some help with ever escalating costs.

One mum said she and her husband both worked hard five days a week. She added: “We are overdrawn every month with our childcare costing £900 a month – more than our mortgage”.

These parents, like me, are worried when and if the 30 hour promise will become a reality. There are real fears that government funding to provide the places will not be enough to meet the cost.

The recent Family and Childcare Trust 2016 survey said that thousands of three year olds are missing out on free nursery education even before the 30 hours comes in – because local providers can’t offer enough places. Since last year, the number of English local authorities reporting a shortage of free early education places for three and four year olds has more than doubled. And more than a third of councils are already now struggling to meet demand.

The government has raised parents expectations and makes lots of noise about ‘making work pay’. It is a shame there are only eight pilots starting this year with full implementation not due until next September. The Chancellor needs to spell out clearly in his Budget today that he will provide enough money to make this much-anticipated childcare pledge a reality.

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