Childcare: Government 'should help parents spread cost'

Children at nursery The money would be in the form of vouchers for high-quality childcare

Related Stories

UK parents should be able to spread the cost of childcare over as many as 20 years, according to a think tank.

The Social Market Foundation wants the government to offer up to £10,000 up front, which families would pay back in monthly contributions.

All working parents with children under school age would be eligible.

Report author Ian Mulheirn said: "The high cost of formal childcare effectively locks thousands of parents out of work each year."

Mr Mulheirn said the poorest families would benefit most from the proposal, as recent research showed that a quarter of parents on the lowest income brackets had given up their jobs because the cost of childcare was too high.

"Childcare costs impose a huge burden on families for a relatively short period of time.

"This has a real impact on families' household budgets and can mean that it's simply not viable for some parents to go to work, despite the real benefits to both their earning power and their children's development offered by formal childcare," he said.

The report suggests that the money should be given to families by the government in the form of vouchers for high-quality nurseries or child minders.

The authors say this would improve the quality of childcare and boost educational attainment in children from poorer households.

'Innovative scheme'

The money would be paid back in the form of an extra tax on the income of the main earner in the household.

The authors suggest a repayment rate of 6% until families have paid off the amount in full, or after 20 years have elapsed.

Mr Mulheirn said: "By helping parents spread the cost through manageable monthly contributions, this innovative scheme can help parents do what is best for themselves and their children."

A YouGov poll of parents of preschool children showed support for the idea, with 57% saying it was a good idea and more than a quarter saying they would use the scheme if it was available.

The Daycare Trust, which campaigns for quality affordable childcare, said the proposal should be considered seriously but would not solve all the problems faced by the poorest families.

"Many families already have debt problems and will not be willing to take on more," said chief executive Anand Shukla.

"We believe that the best way of supporting parents is to increase the number of hours of free childcare for pre-school children, as well as offering financial help through the tax credit system so that all families can benefit from high-quality childcare."

The Social Market Foundation has sent a copy of the report, A Better Beginning, to the three main political parties.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Education & Family stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.