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Free childcare for all one- and two-year-olds, and maternity pay extended to a year?

(58 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-Nov-14 13:47:46

Employers' organisation the CBI today called on the government to extend the 15 free hours of childcare currently offered to three- and four-year-olds to all one- and two-year-olds; lengthen maternity pay entitlement to one year; and raise the NI threshold.

It says that average families - who've seen their income fall by £2,132 a year in real terms between 2009 and 2013 - have borne the brunt of the financial crisis and the slow recovery, and that these measures will boost family incomes and get more adults into work.

Would this make a substantial difference to your family finances? Do you agree that the government should step in to help families? Do share your thoughts on the thread.

stubbornstains Mon 10-Nov-14 14:36:54

Whilst I agree that the Government should step in to extend free childcare, perhaps the CBI should do their bit and give their support to raising the minimum wage, and outlawing zero hours contracts? (pig flaps heavily past window...)

Thurlow Mon 10-Nov-14 15:16:38

It would make an enormous difference to the finances of any family who has to pay for childcare, surely? £500-£1000 a month in many cases.

I feel very torn on this. Of course helping parents back to work is a good thing. But compared to other things that need doing... I agree with stubborn, raising the nmw and dealing with issues such as zero-hour contracts should be a much higher priority. You see women on this forum who aren't even eligible for maternity leave because they are on zero-hour contracts.

I'd like to see an increase in statutory maternity pay as it is quite tight for most families to survive and so many parents end up returning to work before their leave entitlement is up because they can't afford any more time off work. There is such a vast difference between the maternity pay that people in different sectors get, and I'd like to see that evened out somewhat.

But overall, while it's a lovely idea, the government paying for more childcare is not high up the list of priorities for me. Encouraging employers to be just a little more flexible to allow both parents to work is something that I would prefer to see pushed.

writtenguarantee Mon 10-Nov-14 15:18:34

not a difference to my family as our youngest will enter school next year.

Tanith Mon 10-Nov-14 15:45:16

They've got a nerve!! angry

I already subsidise the existing Early Years Free entitlement because it doesn't cover my fees. I don't doubt we'll be forced to subside further "free" childcare.

Why should childcare businesses be out of pocket so the CBI's members can save money on wages? Pay a decent wage, you tightwads! angry

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-Nov-14 15:50:34

Thurlow apologies - just noticed that the OP implied that the CBI wants the govt. to fund unlimited free childcare for one- and two-year-olds.

In fact, they're calling for 15 hours of free childcare (currently offered to three- and four-year-olds) to be available to one- and two-year-olds as well. We've edited the OP to clarify.

AuntieStella Mon 10-Nov-14 18:33:14

The Early Years funding is described as education not childcare.

I'm not at all sure the taxpayer should be funding education below the age of three. And I don't think there is enough money in the system to start a whole new system of tax-payer funded childcare. Especially as the exisiting CTC should be providing a means-based top up. Revalorising the figures for that would be more administratively efficient than a new foray into childcare.

How much will these proposals cost? And how would they be paid for?

Because families who have just emerged from the lean years in which they have been paying are hardly going to want to pay higher taxes for this or see services for older children cut.

dreamingbohemian Mon 10-Nov-14 19:13:03

I think it's a fantastic idea. I've lived in France and Germany the past few years, where childcare is heavily subsidised -- on a low to middle income you might pay 40 to 140 euros per month for full-time care. It's terrific and I can't honestly understand why people object to it.

Not only does it give families a huge financial break, but it's good for women in particular -- you see so many women who fall out of the workplace for a number of years because 'my wage wouldn't cover childcare', then they find it almost impossible to get back into their career.

It's fair question, how to pay for it, but given a number of countries do manage it, it must be possible somehow.

Purplehonesty Mon 10-Nov-14 19:13:50

It would have been be good for me. I work from home with a two year old and I can't wait for next August when she gets her free place!
It will mean I can actually do some work during the day instead of having to cram it all in when both kids are asleep after 7pm.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 10-Nov-14 19:23:51

Wouldn't it take up more spaced though?

It's a struggle in some areas to get the free 15 hours for three year olds. There have been many threads about people struggling to go back.to work because the spaces are all taken up with the free spaces provided to two year olds.

If this extends to 1 yr olds where are all the spaces going to come from?

dreamingbohemian Mon 10-Nov-14 19:29:14

Surely it would mean more childcare centres opening up? Or more people becoming childminders? Which is more jobs, which is also a good thing.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 10-Nov-14 19:30:28

Well the funding for two year olds hasn't seen that happen. In fact nurseries are closing down.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 10-Nov-14 19:34:41

It will still detract from. Full time laid places though won't it?

There will only he a certain amount of a hours covered by the funding which most likely people will off set with family to save themselves money.

NeverFreezeLobsters Mon 10-Nov-14 19:36:43

This would have made a huge difference to our family - I only work 12 hours or so a week, so funded childcare would have been marvellous.

theposterformallyknownas Mon 10-Nov-14 19:43:26

Isn't this just the childcare element of tax credit or am I missing something? Is it not just moving the goal posts, removing child tax credits because if its free nobody will need to claim the childcare element.
I also thought that the 15 free hours was for pre school education not childcare.

Ohnodisaster Mon 10-Nov-14 20:01:15

Yes this would make a massive difference to me-currently spending nearly 60 % of my salary on childcare to work 3 days per week (2 year old in nursery and 5 year old in before and after school club)
And I have a relatively well paid job so goodness knows how those on a minimum wage manage.

annoyedofnorwich Mon 10-Nov-14 20:11:23

So what happens to the childcare places that currently struggle and lose money on the 'funded' 3 yr old places? As the government money doesn't cover their costs. They just about stay open because they can make up for the lost money with 1 and 2 year olds. The government needs to fund the full cost of early years education- not expect private businesses to cover the shortfall. The £3 or so an hour the government give does not cover the cost of high quality child care and education. Are they trying to drive standards down?

bangersmashandbeans Mon 10-Nov-14 21:58:33

A friend who lived in Paris with her DS told me how their childcare system ran: basically there were different nurseries dependent on if both parents worked or not. Those parents who worked could send their DC to a nursery open all day, those who didn't but wanted the DC in some childcare could send them to a nursery open limited hours, they had to take them home for lunch and parents had to help out on a rota basis. Childcare there is subsidised and means tested.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 10-Nov-14 22:03:13

That sounds a much better idea.

Not certain but I'm sure I've heard that the lowest earners are usually shift workers. So good chance places would be taken up covering cross over periods between either parents shifts and the rest being done by the parent who's home or family. So using little over the free hours provided. There's no way that wouldn't hit day care facilities hard.

Quitelikely Mon 10-Nov-14 22:21:36

MN tell the government that a ft childcare place in my local area is £860 PCM. After school club is £10 per day, and as I have three dc only one at school my childcare costs are sky high!

Needless to say I cannot afford to return to work just yet. I could if the government made childcare more affordable but the truth is as things stand, after tax I would have hardly anything left once my student loan is deducted.

OddBoots Mon 10-Nov-14 22:43:33

They need to properly fund the provision for 3-4yo and funded 2yo first. The losses that early years providers are making on these places are not sustainable for many settings unless they cut corners.

NoodleFace Tue 11-Nov-14 08:19:12

Someone asked the question on where the places will come from, we are currently going through a consulation period in my local area where they are proposing to close 7 sure start centers that offer vital help for new mums and the buildings will be put out to tender for 2yo funded childcare.

I imagine if this is roled out, a similar thing could happen.

Although my DS has been going to nursery since he was 8 months old for one day a week so I am not completely against the idea I feel there are far more important issues to sort first.

EstellaSpitsEmOut Tue 11-Nov-14 08:55:15

I agree with the poster that said Statutory Maternity Pay needs to be increased. I earn more than my partner and cover the majority of our household finances. But SMP won't come anywhere near covering that.

DaisyFlowerChain Tue 11-Nov-14 09:01:53

Our maternity pay is very generous compared to many countries so I don't think it should be increased. Maybe a tax deductible scheme of some sort you can pay into to cover your salary whilst off would be better.

The free 15 hours are available to everyone regardless of whether the parent works or not. If we have to provide assistance re chidlcare, it should be done via the tax deductions so that those working and paying in get the benefit rather than funding free babysitters for people who are home anyway. The free 15 hours were supposed to be for education not childcare.

The funding doesn't cover most places true hourly cost so enforcing more will mean places close penalising those who work and pay for childcare.

TsukuruTazaki Tue 11-Nov-14 09:14:40

I think it's a good idea. The cost of childcare is so high and a huge burden on working families. I think it's awful that so many women face the choice of effectively working just to cover childcare with barely anything leftover or dropping out of the workforce and hoping they will be able to salvage their career once the children are at school and they return to work.

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