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Childcare ratios: Lib Dems to veto planned changes

(119 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 09-May-13 08:01:37

Morning everyone,

For those of you who've been following the campaign to persuade the government to roll back on its proposed reforms to adult-child ratios for childcarers, we have good news. It was announced on Newsnight last night that Nick Clegg has told the Conservative party he will block the planned changes to ratios, which were expected to be brought in in September.

Due to opposition across the boards to the relaxation of the ratios - particularly evident in the recent webchat with Childcare Minister Liz Truss - Mumsnet gave its backing to the Pre-School Learning Alliance's Rewind on Ratios campaign, which called for the Government to scrap its plans and to undertake a full consultation with practitioners and parents on future proposals. The announcement from the Lib Dems looks like the first step in that direction.

Justine appeared on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning to explain Mumsnetters' opposition to the changes, saying: "There is a general feeling on our website that it will have a bad impact on the quality of provision. When we surveyed our members, only 5% said they would be happy to accept a relaxation of ratios, even if it meant lower costs" - which pretty much sums it up. Thanks to all of you who signed the petition: your support made a difference!


That's OK Helen. Sarah's OP had a lot more useful links in anyway which I haven't got the hang of yet.
Sorry I missed Justine on The Today programme this morning. How did it go ? I wake up to Classic FM these days and save my news for later in the day (such as on Newsnight) But perhaps my post was a little late too and everyone had already turned in ?
The political situation regarding this is interesting too I think. I wonder if the coalition will last right up to the next election or if the parties are beginning to feel they need to set up their different stalls in good time for the next election ?
I hope supporting this will be good for Nick Clegg and the LibDems because I think it is the right thing to do. Quite a brave move perhaps ?

NarkyNamechanger Thu 09-May-13 12:56:52


(I'm a childminder)


olgaga Thu 09-May-13 13:21:38

Xenia do you still not appreciate that most settings are already at capacity and will simply offer the same number of places with fewer staff, for the same price - not more places at a reduced price!

The cost of premises, business rates, utilities, staffing and insurance means that many nurseries are barely profitable and many go under every year.

The number of childminders is also in decline - and those who remain won't be taking on more children and generously charging their clients less per hour and do more work for the same money!

racmun Thu 09-May-13 13:22:23

Does anyone actually believe that the changes will reduce costs? All the nurseries Round here are big business - surely they'll just take extra children in but not reduce costs for parents , they'll just make more profits.

I don't know of any nurseries who don't operate (if they can fill the spaces) at full capacity. I can't for one minute imagine 1 nursery charging £x more because they have better ratios I just don't see the savings filtering down.

Not so sure about childminders as they do seem a bit more flexible.

Surely 4 children is enough for 1 person to look after. I find 1 enough to cope with.

moogy1a Thu 09-May-13 13:54:52

CM's may be more flexible but it certainly doesn't mean we would take on more children at a reduced rate. I struggle to think of any job where you would take on more work without more pay.
It was a silly idea that was never going to reduce costs and would have led to dangerous situations.
let's hope it's ditched.

blueberryupsidedown Thu 09-May-13 13:55:09

I don't think that any childminder I know (and I am one) would agree to look after more children (a lot more work) for less money. It doesn't make sense. Who would work harder for less money?

I think that in most European countries often quoted by our wonderful conservative government, it's the fact that early years' care is subsidised by the government that drives the cost down, not the fact that there is a different ratio. The different ratio is a consequence, not a cause, of the cost being lower. The biggest factor in cost being lower in other countries is more government money going into nurseries.

Bicnod Thu 09-May-13 15:41:36

Excellent news smile

Solopower1 Thu 09-May-13 17:47:48

I feel for you, WillSanta - my daughter is going to have to pay £400 a week for her two when the little one goes to nursery. How can anyone afford that??

But other posters are right - raising the ratio would never have meant cheaper childcare for parents.

So what's to be done? I wouldn't want to pay nursery nurses or childminders a penny less for the vitally important job they do - but nor can parents pay any more. Employers aren't going to pay parents more than single people, so that just leaves ... the government. Which means higher taxes all round, doesn't it?

So - should childless people subsidise the cost of childcare? Well, if they want a healthy, happy workforce in 20 years' time (the people who are going to drive their buses and wipe their bottoms when they are old and infirm), then yes, they should, imo.

I don't really get why we agree to pay taxes to fund schools and universities but not nurseries, tbh.

I don't think there's anything more important than children - even other people's!

Togetherforquality Thu 09-May-13 17:51:38

This is really good news

Can I remind everyone that there is a website which is dedicated to providing as much information as possible about More Great Childcare and the campaign against those proposals. There are links to petitions and consultations, plus a number of blogs - including mine and one I wrote about the Newsnight programme (look for blogs by Penny Webb) which despite being a mumsnet blogger - I keep forgetting to post here (sorry)

Goldmandra Thu 09-May-13 18:21:30

So - should childless people subsidise the cost of childcare? Well, if they want a healthy, happy workforce in 20 years' time (the people who are going to drive their buses and wipe their bottoms when they are old and infirm), then yes, they should, imo.

They would also benefit from lower NHS costs and fewer people in the criminal justice system. It's about investing in our future.

The logic behind the ratio changes is appallingly flawed. The suggestion is that having more children per adult would allow nurseries to employ more highly qualified staff. If the staff are paid more how can the parents also pay less?

I also wonder how having a degree gives you more time to devote to each individual child. The higher your qualifications the more you realise how and why children need one to one interactions in order to learn and develop most effectively. We'd just end up with a population of Early Years practitioners who were very aware of what they should be doing but frustrated by a system which prevented them from doing it.

If the government really wants to improve the quality of Early Years care offered to our children they need to subsidise it effectively.

Yes, and they(we) should subsidise it Gold because many research studies have shown they'd (we'd) get the money back down the line, possibly five or six fold IIRC smile

A real win/win situation for everyone.

I wonder which of the political parties have so far picked up on that. I support the Green party for example and hope it's on their agenda.
- Something to go and find out .....

CreatureRetorts Thu 09-May-13 19:23:22

Excellent news.

When they cite other countries as having higher ratios, can they demonstrate that childcare is better?

To bring costs down for parents, the government needs to accept that it'll take more than tinkering with ratios. We need decent state subsidies/tax breaks - which is what other countries do.

CreatureRetorts Thu 09-May-13 19:24:34

And as for peopl who think that childless people shouldn't subsidise people with kids - what a narrow minded selfish view of the world.

LineRunner Thu 09-May-13 19:46:55

My grandparents are dead but I don't begrudge paying taxes so other people's grandparents can have health and social care.

The whole 'I haven't got .... [insert need or demographic category of choice]' argument is not a sustainable one.

1310 Thu 09-May-13 19:48:15

I really cannot understand why mothers do not wish to spend a few years enjoying their children. You will never get those years back. There must surely ba an alternative. Leaving your child with a stranger should never be an option. May be for those who have fantastic jobs and wish to return to work they could consider employing a live in nanny. Surely this would cost a similar amount to childcare taking up one whole salary. I suspect most working mothers in government have a more stable arrangement. I understand childcare goes beyond babies and toddlers but when children go to school they do not need one to one care so ratios of six children per adult is not unreasonable. I really do think society has to change its priorities and mindset on this issue. There is nothing wrong with going back to work if your job is important to you and you can justify leaving your baby. Most women out of choice I believe would be happier looking after their own children.

AmandinePoulain Thu 09-May-13 19:55:12

Yes 1310, there is an alternative - only I don't fancy having my home repossessed, thanks, or my children going without food or electricity hmm. I guess I could get a live in nanny but she'd have to work for a pittance and sleep in the she'd wink.

AmandinePoulain Thu 09-May-13 19:57:34

Shed dammit! It's a word, it doesn't need correcting, stupid phone blush

Badvoc Thu 09-May-13 19:59:23

Fantastic news!

Martha75 Thu 09-May-13 20:05:48

Not sure how I feel about this. Babies and very small children do need lots of attention, that is why I stayed at home to bring up my three and went without so much that people take for granted nowadays. I would respect anyone's own choice, though. That being said, a lovely friend of mine was a nursery teacher for 3-4 year olds (in a state school) and it was decreed that she and two nursery nurses should look after 52 children per day (at one time increased to 78 children per day!) in two separate sessions. It was a wonderful nursery - happy children, satisfied parents (one of them me and my child). It surely must depend on the calibre of staff employed - parents pay so much that surely salaries could be increased?

LineRunner Thu 09-May-13 20:07:29

When my husband left the house didn't magically grow a nanny room, sadly. And my wages didn't cover a nanny's salary, anyway - only daycare in a nursery.

MousyMouse Thu 09-May-13 20:09:40

with the current ratio it is not some strangers looking after your children.
it is a few key persons who get to know the children very well (and vice versa). the nursery staff is very well trained and vetted (not neccessarily the case with nannies).

LineRunner Thu 09-May-13 20:15:45

Yes Mousy and I shouldn't have said 'only' daycare in a nursery. The care was excellent and we knew the staff really well and we still have the photos and homebooks in our nice stash of memories, and I can tell you their names now off the top of my head 12 years later.

Martha75 Thu 09-May-13 20:16:06

"Surely 4 children is enough for 1 person to look after. I find 1 enough to cope with."

Racmun - probably because you are running around trying to do all the housework, washing, cooking, shopping and anything else that needs doing! Nursery nurses/teachers can concentrate solely on the children in their care.

Ahh, that's a nice thing to say LineRunner - I like the homebooks too and still have ours for DD and DS.
As an early years peep it's nice to think we might be remembered by families too smile

1310 Thu 09-May-13 20:48:45

I am not decrying anyone who chooses to work. As far as paying bills and feeding children are concerned you must be able to earn a very good wage if you can pay childcare too. Most women find it a struggle. Why work to pay childcare when a few years of your life spent with your children would solve so many problems.. Future society problems as well monetary ones. There are many women who enjoy working and will pay their whole salary to childcare and that is fine but there are also women who feel pressurised to go back to work when they do not need to with a little bit of forethought. All I am asking is that we turn this problem on its head and think about the children we bring into this world. If we have enough imagination I am sure most of us would come up with a solution that does not involve the government. Never a good outcome for something so important.

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