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Universal, free childcare - is it a solution?

(328 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 01-Nov-12 21:55:00

This week, Mumsnet Blogger Mummyisagadgetgeek reports back from an event organized by the thinktank Progress on the subject of universal childcare. Should they win the next election, Labour are considering it as a possible policy - so we thought it would be good to find out what it was all about.

So: read her blog report from the event, tell us what you think here on the thread - and if you blog, let us know about it. We'll be tweeting posts next week.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 02-Nov-12 19:22:13

Unless a very high rate tax payer then a family with only one earner wont even pay back what they take out much less what the whole family will so i doubt they will be paying for others childcare in reality.

Far better to provide childcare so adults can work rather than pay people to stay home. More tax is generated, more childcare workers needed, nobody gets paid to stay home and hopefully it would break the cycle of benefit generations.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 02-Nov-12 19:30:14


I'm glad this or no other government has shared your attitude HappyMummy.I don't know where you imagine the jobs would come from. The problem is too many parents working already. If only one parent works it frees a job for another parent from another family who wants to work.
I don't value going to work over bringing my dc up, and wouldn't dream of using childcare, thankfully as I stated I have benefitted financially to allow me to do this.

jellybeans Fri 02-Nov-12 19:36:08

I think it is a bad idea. I agree with the poster that said no amount of free childcare would make all SAHP get a job, for myself and many of my SAHP friends this is the case. Raising my kids full time is the main thing in my life. I was a working mum with my first and hated having to put something-work- before my kids. I want to be with them when they are ill, school plays etc. It was a long road of suffering to have my DC and we had many losses inc late pregnancy. I could never have left DC on a daily basis after that. I re evaluated life and to me careers and jobs are not all they are cracked up to be at the moment for me, they may be at some point. For others they are meaningful or necessary thus one size does not fit all.

In addition why should the childless pay for your childcare? Shouldn't you plan it before you choose to have a child? Taxes would hugely go up to pay for such a scheme. I also worry about the effects on some children if they were in daycare for very long periods from a young age. If this is necessary then fair enough but I don't think it should become the norm.

I do think labour and the condems (especially Clegg) want all mothers back to work. They are only thinking of the economy of course and their precious targets and state regulated and monitored care. I think they think the Swedish model is the ideal or some sort of equal gendered utopia.

pianomama Fri 02-Nov-12 19:52:07

Free for all or for all who work? Chances are - free for all would not be very good quality - large "class" numbers, no enough qulified stuff etc. Would be really hard to implement in real life. And how could it be financed if we can't afford universal child benefit anymore?

emonslemons Fri 02-Nov-12 20:26:05

willsantacomeagain you sound like an out of touch snob! blah blah blah........

'Thanks to the wonderfully liberating concept of contraception, each and every woman (and, for that matter, man) chooses to have a child. I see absolutely no reason why the state should subsidise that choice.'

two points - no contracpetin is 100% and we are all taxed in one way or another so we should benefit from the money taken from us to improve our society!

i wonder if you would feel the same way with minimum wage and no future prospects.....perhaps you wouldnt breed? after all as humans that is what its all about right?

SundaeGirl Fri 02-Nov-12 20:28:52

This is just another way to beat people back into work. It's not a progressive policy.

More progressive would be to encourage employers (through reduced NI contributions) to let their staff work from home where possible. This would save many families an enormous amount in travel costs and put money back into small businesses in what are currently dormitory towns. It would have the positive happy benefit of families spending more time together, not less.

scottishmummy Fri 02-Nov-12 20:37:47

if this supports women to work,and return job market great idea
we need to retain women in workforce,and structure childcare that supports that
I'd like to read about how it would work,the implementation and cost

morethanpotatoprints Fri 02-Nov-12 20:50:24


What job market would this be then?
Where will the money come from?
Why do we need to retain women in workforce?
What about the men, do they not deserve to be retained?

scottishmummy Fri 02-Nov-12 20:55:20

in workforce,it is women who take career breaks much more than men
many surveys show barrier to return to work for women is childcare
its cost effective to retain skilled workforce,and if women want to return it's good to support this

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 02-Nov-12 21:01:22

"What job market would this be then?" state nurseries maybe? wink

nannynick Fri 02-Nov-12 21:05:40

How much choice would parents get in choosing their childcare provider? What about those parents who need childcare at a time which isn't catered for by the childcare providers the Government uses for the scheme?
The fees charged by childcare providers varies around the country and even within local areas. So I don't understand how this would be paid for... Government would pay a fixed fee I would guess - but that may be fine in some areas but below the cost of what the service costs to provide in other areas.

Not everyone has children - if the Government is paying for all childcare, then what do those people without children get? They get the privilege of paying for it (via taxation) but not getting any benefit from it.

Voting public - how many voters have children aged say 3 months to 15 years old? I would wonder if there are more voters who don't have children in that age range, so who would NOT vote for a political party which wanted to provide free childcare.

"Universal childcare is a system where all children between the ages of one and five would be entitled to free, quality childcare, should their parents wish or need to use it." - Why such a small age range. Mums go back to work before their child is age 1. Mums go to work when their children are school aged - yet primary school's only operate roughly 9am-3pm and only during term time so it is incompatible with working 9to5, yet alone doing working hours that are not 9-5.

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit does need a rethink in my view. A single person earning National Minimum Wage and working 16 hours a week, pays ZERO tax, ZERO national insurance, and their employer pays ZERO employers national insurance. Least by my calculations - or have I missed something? If they have one child they can claim max of £122.50 (70% of £175) a week against childcare cost, with 2 children or more they can claim a max of £210 (70% of £300). Are they being paid to work? Is that good for the country? Maybe they should be paid to stay at home?

"Labour and their minions have done the maths, and they predict that for every mother returning to work, the economy will benefit to the tune of £20,050 over the four-year period that the child would be in childcare because of the tax revenue generated" - don't suppose anyone has a link to the spreadsheet?

I don't see how this would work financially. I don't see it giving parents choice, instead it could limit choice a lot by saying that parents have to use a specified local state run nursery.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 02-Nov-12 21:07:10


Why is it good to support return to work for parents who can't afford childcare?

Oh yes I can see us queing in droves to care for others kids. How would that work then? would your own kids be part of your ratio or be looked after by someone else? Now that would be weird.

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 02-Nov-12 21:08:43

yeah we'd all be paid to look after each others kids so that we could all work filling all the new nurseries to required to look after our kids while we mind everyone elses confused

scottishmummy Fri 02-Nov-12 21:10:52

because it removes barrier to working.working generates tax/ni retains skills
many cite lack of childcare as reason unable to work
it is good for individual, for families to have working proven to be good for mental health and self esteem

morethanpotatoprints Fri 02-Nov-12 21:19:52


Most sahp are doing this out of choice and have no barriers to working. Those who want to work are doing so, if they are able to find a job. I know this because they regularly post about how much their childcare costs blar blar blar.
Work is not the only thing to give good mental health and self esteem. Believe it or not bringing your own children up does this too.
Why do so many people think that sahp do so because they can't afford childcare. Heaven forbid anyone would choose this route, they couldn't possibly be far happier and wealthier than if they had worked and paid for childcare. grin

soundevenfruity Fri 02-Nov-12 21:21:44

I don't quite understand what is the difference between state provision of education beginning from 4-5 and state provision of childcare prior to that. I have not heard anybody suggesting that schools should to be privatised to increase competition and quality.

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 02-Nov-12 21:24:53

I was not a SAHM by choice, I was a SAHM because I lived in an area where childcare costs were rediculously high compaired to the rest of the country and I couldn't afford to work there as I work in a low paid field, I would have liked to have been working

EVEN SO I would not consider a state allocated childcare space a great alternative, yes I wanted to work and couldn't afford the childcare, but I also wouldn't do it unless I could choose a setting that suited my small child even if the cost element was taken away.

when I did go back to work I saw quite a few settings that I would not have been happy to send him before I found one that I was happy with. I wouldn't have used some of them even if they were free!!

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 02-Nov-12 21:26:33

but soundevenfruity, we are talking about NON VERBAL children, that does IMO make a difference, and its great that the state provides free education but there is no choice, not in areas like mine where everywhere is over subscribed, and yes you can list your preferences but you mightened get any of them

nannynick Fri 02-Nov-12 21:26:38

"working generates tax/ni" - Not always, if someone works 16 hours a week at NMW they earn below the tax personal allowance.

"retains skills" - Yes, I do agree that a women who leaves a job to have a child and then does not go back to work again loses the work skills they have. However not everyone does have skills which are in high demand and have taken many years of training and experience to acquire.

scottishmummy Fri 02-Nov-12 21:29:21

potato you describe a prosperous housewife choosing to be at home
that's not necessarily representative of all people.many want to return but can't
numerous studies show the barrier to return to work is childcare,if childcare avail many would return.maybe not your prosperous housewife but certainly this prevented working by lack of affordable childcare

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 02-Nov-12 21:32:15

it doesn't just have to be affordable though, it also has to be appropriate! For some people a nursery isn't an option for their baby and they'll only consider a CM and vica verca. There has to be choice otherwise people would still say that they couldn't find any SUITABLE childcare

nannynick Fri 02-Nov-12 21:36:57

halloweeneyqueeney - I agree. It also has to be at the time they need the childcare - I did a 7am-7pm shift at work today. One nursery in my area opened at 5am and closed at 11pm, providing childcare for shift workers. I hate to think how much providing such a facility costs and I do wonder if it's profitable.

mumzy Fri 02-Nov-12 21:39:36

Another example of the Labour party spending our taxes to buy themselves some votes. LISTEN UP ED! WE WANT OUR CHILDCARE COSTS TO PAID FROM OUR PRE TAX EARNINGS

halloweeneyqueeney Fri 02-Nov-12 21:43:29

but mumzy where I work that would mean paying not only less NI but also less into the company pension.. which defeats part of the benefit of women going back to work after having children somewhat? Paying into a pension and keeping up NI conts incase I need certain benefits are quite important to me, I don't pay that much in as it is but if I deducted childcare before them I'ld pay nothing into them

much better suggestion up thread of the COST of childcare not having tax added, that would benefit providers and users

morethanpotatoprints Fri 02-Nov-12 21:49:02


I don't think people question schooling as most children attend school. Very few parents are able to provide what schools can. and this is the preferred option for most parents. However all parents are capable of providing childcare to their own dc.
There is choice in education in terms of quality and competition also choice in setting too.

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