All political parties are being urged to join forces to review the UK's childcare system as another report highlights rising childcare costs.The Family and Childcare Trust's annual survey says the average cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has risen 33% since 2010.
Shocking stuff. But what lies at the heart of high childcare costs in Britain today?
A further element in the expansion of government into the pre-school years is a comprehensive system of regulation of childcare providers, which has brought them into an unprecedented state-determined curriculum for under-fives. This scheme has thirteen assessment scales, each of which has nine points against which children’s development must be measured. Providers of childcare are subject to Ofsted inspection in the same way as schools for older children.
The requirement to implement this ‘early years Foundation Stage’, together with a set of demanding regulations about premises, food safety and so forth, has meant that many informal providers of childcare have simply left the market. The number of registered childminders fell from nearly 100,000 when Labour came into power in 1997 to 57,000 in 2010.
Governments. Screwing things up since time immemorial.