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Labour MP calls for local views on Childcare

With the imminent introduction of a major new government-funded childcare scheme, many parents have struggled to register on the Childcare Choices website. Darren Jones MP is launching a survey for Bristol North West’s parents and childcare providers to share their views and experiences on the scheme, and more generally on local childcare provision. With council children’s service budgets also facing unprecedented pressure, due to government funding cuts, Darren is also keen to hear from those working in this sector.

The new childcare schemes include tax-free childcare, launched in July, as well as 30 hours’ free term time childcare for all three- and four-year-olds, which launches in September.

Alongside the online technical issues, concerns have been raised about the need for parents to earn (on average) £120 per week, that free childcare is term time only and that childcare must be blocked booked. The policy has been criticised as being difficult to navigate for the many parents employed full time, year-round and especially for parents on flexible or zero hours contracts.

Childcare providers have also highlighted their concerns that the funding received from government does not realistically cover the costs of childcare and they are having to recoup costs in other ways or face closure.

Darren said:

“Whilst I am hugely supportive of the extended free childcare provision, I am very concerned that parents may be unable to access the funding before the launch because the IT systems are not up to scratch or because the nature of their employment does not ‘fit’ the scheme”.

Darren continued “Childcare providers are also voicing concerns about the funding they’re receiving and we are regularly hearing worrying news of closures. Some providers are having to add charges for basic items like nappies or reduce trips to save money. I would encourage parents and those employed in childcare to complete my survey so I have an accurate picture of the situation in Bristol North West”.

The survey, launching on 15th August, will be live for four weeks via www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QPXTL7S.