Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Government package aimed at cutting childcare costs branded ‘pathetic’

Proposed reforms to early years education have been criticised (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Proposed reforms to early years education have been criticised (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Government has been accused of being “pathetic” and wasting time in relation to plans aimed at improving the cost, choice and availability of childcare.

A new consultation will look at increasing the number of children that can be looked after by each staff member in early years settings, with proposals to change staff-to-child ratios from 1:4 to 1:5 for two-year-olds.

Ministers say this will give providers more flexibility in how they run their businesses while maintaining safety and quality of care.

The Government said this could “potentially eventually” reduce the cost of this form of childcare by up to 15%, if providers adopt the changes and pass all the savings on to parents.

But a charity that is the largest early years membership organisation in England has criticised the plan.

Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said: “Given the scale of the challenges facing the early years at the moment, it is beyond frustrating that the Government is wasting its time consulting on relaxing ratios, rather than just admitting that if we want to have affordable, quality, sustainable care and early education in this country, we need to invest substantially more into the sector than we are doing at the moment.

“Our own research has clearly shown that the proposal to relax ratios for two-year-olds in nurseries and pre-schools from 1:4 to 1:5 will not only fail to lower the cost of early years places, but in any settings that do adopt the new ratios, will drive down quality and worsen the already catastrophic recruitment and retention crisis the sector is already experiencing.”

The Government said it will also support more people to become childminders, streamline the Ofsted registration process for providers and encourage the growth of Childminder Agencies.

The plans have also been dismissed by the country’s top trade union leader who said they “won’t help”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “High-quality affordable childcare should be available for all.

“But too many parents are spending a massive slice of their pay packets on rising childcare costs, while their wages stagnate.

“These proposals won’t help. Cutting staffing ratios will just put more pressure on underpaid and undervalued childcare workers.

“Instead of making policy on the hoof, ministers should listen to childcare workers.

“It’s time for a proper funding settlement for childcare that delivers high-quality care, keeps the costs down for families and guarantees decent pay and conditions for workers.”

Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “This is a pathetic announcement that fails to deliver the ambition families need to tackle spiralling childcare costs.

“Tweaking ratios is not the answer parents want and not the answer children need. T

“The vast majority of providers have made clear this would make no difference to costs for parents.

“What’s more, parents have said the current system of tax-free childcare is too complex to use even once explained. The Government is out of ideas and failing children and families alike.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Every child deserves a great start in life and that means giving families the support they need.

“Childcare is an integral part of our economy, and these reforms prove again that this Government is on the side of working families.

“I’m hugely grateful to the thousands of dedicated early years professionals who provide daily care and education to our youngest children, which is why I am determined to support them by giving them greater flexibility in how they run their services.

“This in turn will support thousands of families across the country, helping to develop children’s skills while also supporting parents into work.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in