Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle North, has highlighted the importance of good quality accessible childcare during a debate in Westminster Hall on childcare funding and affordability.

The debate follows over 112,000 people signing a petition calling for independent review of childcare funding, started by campaign group Pregnant then Screwed. As Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine led the debate in Parliament. A survey by the Petitions Committee survey earlier this year found that 77% of the parents asked agreed or strongly agreed that cost had prevented them from getting the kind of childcare they really needed.

During the debate, Catherine highlighted that “so many economic and social benefits flow” from the childcare sector, including “many important life outcomes – from health to wealth and wellbeing”, as well as childcare being “crucial for working parents” and that “help with the cost of childcare and early education is one of the best ways Government can support families with young children”.

Catherine further stated that: “childcare is as necessary for parents to get to work as the roads and rail network” but queried whether the Government “approach it, and fund it, as the vital infrastructure investment that it clearly should be”.

She also highlighted that “The pandemic has shown just how vital our early years sector is as part of our social and economic infrastructure, and it can play such a vital role in our recovery in the years to come if we can get this right.”

Following the debate, Catherine commented.

“As a working mother, both before and since becoming an MP, I have my own experiences of the heart-wrenching stresses and pressures of getting the right childcare, and the need for support with its enormous costs.

“Since 2008, the cost of childcare has risen three time faster than earnings. Childcare is as necessary for parents to get to work as the roads and rail network. The Government needs to approach and fund childcare as the vital infrastructure investment that it clearly should be.

“I put to Ministers that an independent review would be the perfect opportunity to really think through what we want our childcare and early years sector to be, and how we should fund it.

“It is disappointing that the Government have dismissed the idea of a review so easily. With costs spiralling for parents and providers, this is an issue that is not going to go away”.