This year we saw, for the first time in a long time, women’s wants and needs put front and centre by mainstream parties.

It’s great that tireless campaigning by women’s organisations has forced this government to step up to the plate on childcare and take this first step.

However, while the latest budget announcement realises the potential childcare has for our economy it can only be fully realised if childcare providers are given enough funding to actually deliver it too.

The expansion of “free” places as it stands will prevent providers shoring up their finances, and as a result, more early years settings will close, leaving parents paying the price with nowhere to go.

Only last week, reports showed the true costs of childcare for families over the summer holidays, revealing that although school is out for summer childcare is still in crisis.

As the Gazette reported in August 2021, the current system has actually widened inequality between children from poorer families and those more well-off.

Research by the Resolution Foundation shows the new reforms will also overwhelmingly benefit the better off.

47 per cent of the beneficiaries are in the richest 40 per cent of households, and only 28 per cent are in the bottom 40 per cent. 

The Women’s Equality Party has campaigned for free universal childcare for all families since our inception in 2015; a policy which pays for itself in benefits to economic growth, and we urge all political parties to steal this idea and put it in their manifestos to give parents what they want and the childcare sector what it needs.

Stacy Hart

WEP Basingstoke’s Branch Leader and Hatch Warren and Beggarwood election candidate

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