Think-tank backs children's centres to take early years lead

Laura McCardle
Friday, December 13, 2013

A universal childcare model delivered by children's centres could boost the economy by £1.5bn, according to a new report.

IPPR report claims that universal childcare would help families recover from the recession
IPPR report claims that universal childcare would help families recover from the recession

In its Condition of Britain report, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) argues that the country would be economically better off if government financial support for children and families was paid directly to nurseries, childminders and children’s centres.

It claims that by doing this, rather than supporting families through tax credits or other benefits, the government could boost the economy and help families recover from the recession.

The IPPR says the move would also help more than 250,000 parents return to work, improving their income and putting £1.5bn back into the economy as a result.

It also claims that paying public money directly to childcare providers would help raise the standards in the early years sector and enable greater support for raising the qualifications of childcare professionals.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), has welcomed the proposal for universal childcare.

She said: “This is the best way to support families in need and make sure children have the best start in life.

“Pacey has long called for supply-side funding to go directly to providers so long as childcare settings’ costs are covered and they can invest in quality improvement.

“While IPPR’s report raises some important points around how best to extend provision of care, Pacey recognises the benefits that a community-based approach can offer.”

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), shares a similar view.

She said: “NDNA has long been a supporter of supply-side funding and we agree with the points made in the IPPR report.

“A universal childcare system bringing the complex funding streams together and paying money directly to the providers would make the system more streamlined, efficient and user friendly.”

She added: “Above all, a universal system should ensure parental choice is maintained so they can have the provider of their choice.”

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