Andrew Smith MP

On your side in Oxford East

The Issue: Funding for childcare

OXFORD_MAIL_2013.jpgIs new funding for childcare just a drop in the ocean for many families?

Yes: Whilst any support for parents is welcome, this is a mere drop in the ocean for families who have borne the burden of government cuts.

House of Commons library figures show an average family with a new born baby is losing £2,000 as a result of Tory and Lib Dem cuts to tax credits, maternity pay and support for new families

The proposals will place increased pressure on nurseries at a time when cuts have led to a shortage of places and a rise in prices, and there is a question mark over whether the government can deliver this without compromising standards. Even if they do, there is no guarantee that the poorest families will stand to benefit because there is an income threshold of £10,000 for parents to qualify, meaning that minimum wage earners and single parents would lose money if they try to work their way out of poverty.

I meet hard-working families all the time who are struggling to cope under this government.

Last year the average cost of looking after a new baby rose 4.5%, compared with a 1.5% increase in average earnings. Cuts to childcare help through Working Tax Credit are also hitting working families hard.

The Government needs to take radical action to support families by investing heavily in childcare and extending state childcare provision.

Investment in childcare is a no-brainer -- it can create jobs and help parents move into work, thus raising tax revenue and removing parents from state support.

It can also be a strong driver of equality, empowering women and levelling the playing field for disadvantaged children.

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