Women’s Budget Group says Labour should promote investment in the early years

Date Posted: Thursday 6th July 2023

Childcare and Early EducationFiscal PolicyLabour

Responding to Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer’s speech on his fifth ‘mission’ today, Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said,

“We welcome Bridget Phillipson’s commitment to childcare and early years for every child and family, and Keir Starmer’s recognition of the importance of the early years in child development and in children’s long-term outcomes.

“Local Government should play a greater role in shaping early education and childcare options, so we were pleased to hear Keir Starmer’s support for councils boosting capacity in their local areas to halt the exodus of providers and increase the number of places, which are particularly needed in more disadvantaged areas where there are fewer parents who can afford to top up the funding from Government.

“While we recognise the economic constraints on Government borrowing, investment in the early years is an investment in the foundations of our society and our economy. Our analysis has evidenced the returns to the Treasury of investment in childcare through increased employment in the childcare sector itself, as well as increased maternal employment and multiplier effects which could return up to 75% of the costs[1].

“More progressive taxation on wealth and on income from wealth could fund the upfront investment needed in transforming early education and childcare as well as increasing equality between rich and poor and between women and men, as men tend to have greater wealth than women and to earn more from it[2].

“We also welcome the wider focus on skills and creativity and a commitment to higher quality apprenticeships. This must include interventions to address the gender segregation of apprenticeships which too often funnel young women into lower paid more insecure work[3].

“For Labour to meet their green mission and this mission on opportunity, they need to support the development of a highly skilled, high earning and diverse workforce to deliver clean energy and to work in the sectors that are already low carbon, including childcare and social care.”

About the Women’s Budget Group:

The UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is the UK’s leading feminist 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.

For more information or further comment, contact

erin.mansell@wbg.org.uk / press@wbg.org.uk / 07799116631

Notes to Editors

[1] WBG Calculating the costs of a high quality, free universal childcare system (September 2021)

[2] WBG Why Wealth Tax is a Feminist Issue (June 2023)

[3] Young Women’s Trust The real cost of apprenticeships (2018)