Joint letter urging the Government to prioritise funding for childcare

Date Posted: Tuesday 2nd June 2020

careCovid-19Early Education and ChildcareUnpaid Work

Dear Prime Minister,

We were encouraged by your remarks at the Liaison Committee on May 27th where you acknowledged that female workers have been harder hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. In particular, with reference to additional assistance to the childcare sector you said you would do “whatever it takes to help get women back into work” and that “childcare is absolutely critical for the success of our economy”. You are absolutely right to recognise the severe impact this crisis has already had on female employment.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that mothers in couple families are one and half times more likely than fathers to have lost or quit their jobs since the crisis began. They are also more likely to have been furloughed and are now 9 percentage points less likely to be working for pay. Mothers are also taking on a significantly larger share of unpaid work in the home, even when they are also trying to juggle this with paid work. The picture will be worse for single parents.

It is estimated that a significant proportion of childcare providers will go to the wall with a loss of 10,000 businesses or 150,000 childcare places. Over 90% of staff working in the childcare sector are women. Because of the unequal impact of caring roles, this catastrophic loss of childcare provision will result in fewer mothers being able to return to work. One of the successes of recent years has been the fact that at 75%, rates of maternal employment were higher than they have ever been before, up from 66% in 2000. But this progress has now been reversed and it is our view that maternal employment will not recover to pre-crisis levels without a significant
and strategic investment in our childcare infrastructure.

The economic recovery of the whole country relies on getting women and men back to work, but without childcare mothers will be left behind, the economic recovery will falter and may fail altogether. Just as we need investment in roads and rail, we also need investment in childcare.

We urge you to prioritise funding for childcare in both the short and medium-term by providing a substantial injection of funding at local level now, as the lockdown is easing, so that childcare providers can safely play their part in supporting the economic recovery. But more significantly, we urge you to make investment in our childcare infrastructure integral to your programme for renewal going forward.

Evidence shows that by investing in a care economy we can grow our way out of this recession because there is an economic return on that investment. It pays for itself. We urge you to make childcare part of the solution and we would be delighted to work with you and with your advisers to make this happen.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive, Fawcett Society
Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director, Women’s Budget Group
Rosalind Bragg, Director, Maternity Action
Joeli Brearley, Founder and Director, Pregnant Then Screwed
Victoria Benson, CEO, Gingerbread
Mark Gale, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Young Women’s Trust
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive, Turn2us
Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive, Working Families
Justine Roberts, founder and CEO, Mumsnet
Jessica Figueras, Chair of Trustees, NCT