UK Politics

Labour seeks parents views on childcare

Mother and child on Hampstead Heath
Image caption Labour says a lack of affordable childcare is undermining the economy

Families face a "triple whammy" on childcare which is hampering women's ability to work, Labour has said.

Rising costs, government cutbacks and reduced availability of places is, the party says, making decent childcare increasingly hard to find.

As part of its policy review, Labour has set up a commission on the affordability of childcare.

In June the coalition launched a review of childcare to see how it can be made more affordable by cutting red tape.

Labour will hold a series of "listening events" across England to "engage in a genuine dialogue with parents on their childcare needs".

Speaking at the first event in Swindon, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "David Cameron told us that his would be the most family friendly government in Europe.

"Since 2010 over 30,000 women have chosen not to seek employment because of the costs associated with working, including childcare."

The party says more needs to be done to make sure the tax and benefit system does not punish mothers who decide to work and a "real, professional" childcare service should be made available.

Yvette Cooper, shadow minister for women and equalities said: "This government's continued blind spot on women is letting families down and undermining the economy too as many mothers are being forced to give up work or turn down jobs because of childcare problems."

The government recently launched their own commission on childcare, which will focus on deregulation, child-minding and how to expand wrap-around care for schoolchildren.

The commission, led by Children's Minister Sarah Teather and Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller, is expected to report back to the prime minister and the deputy prime minister in the autumn.

At the time of its launch David Cameron said: "Working parents want to know that after school or in the holidays their children will be looked after in a safe, happy environment that is affordable.

"We want to do all we can to reduce the cost of childcare for parents, and make sure they can find and afford high quality nurseries, after-school clubs and holiday schemes for their children."

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