New report by the Early Education and Childcare Coalition ‘Retention and return: Delivering the expansion of early years entitlement in England’

Date Posted: Monday 6th November 2023

Early Education and Childcare

Responding to the research published by the Early Education and Childcare Coalition today, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Womens’ Budget Group and Chair of the EECC Steering Group said,

“The Office for Budgetary Responsibility concluded that the Government’s announcement on expanding its early years offer to parents had the greatest potential of all its plans to boost the economy in its Spring Budget earlier this year.”

“This brilliant and detailed research from the Coalition and the University of Leeds, which the Women’s Budget Group is pleased to have contributed to, brings home the chasm between the promised and much needed support for parents and the Government’s ability to deliver based on its current plans.”

“The low pay and lack of progression opportunities that characterised the early years sector are the result of years of underfunding and lack of investment by the Government, which has led to retention and recruitment problems and as this research now shows, the need to attract up to 50,000 additional staff next year and the year after.”

“Unless the Government acts now it will not only fail to deliver on its promises to parents but risks weakening an already struggling early years sector. This will not only anger and frustrate parents desperate for help as they try to balance childcare costs with higher rent and mortgage costs. It will also waste the potential economic benefits predicted by the OBR and that we have long argued and evidenced are associated with investment in early education and childcare.”

“As the Chancellor prepares for his Autumn Statement, he must begin to make good on the promises made in spring by increasing funding rates and plugging the £5.2 billion funding gap between the current budget and what we estimate is needed by 2025/26.” ​

About the Women’s Budget Group

The UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is the UK’s leading feminist economics think tank, providing evidence and analysis on women’s economic position and proposing policy alternatives for a gender-equal economy. We act as a link between academia, the women’s voluntary sector and progressive economic think tanks.