Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle North, has renewed calls for the Government to review and invest in childcare as the “vital infrastructure it clearly is” as part of a debate in the House of Commons.
Last year, Catherine led a debate in Westminster on childcare funding and affordability (Link to debate) and has renewed her calls for “a childcare system that helps not only to make the lives of families and their children better, but to make our economy work”.
Speaking during the Children’s recovery and the cost of childcare debate, Catherine highlighted that “Although the spiralling cost of childcare is a worry for many parents amid the cost-of-living crisis, the impact on new mothers is particularly troubling. Because decisions women make in this short period of time have a huge effect on earnings over the rest of their lifetime. Consequently, it impacts on the gender pay gap- which is to a large extent a child pay gap.
“We have one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world, but we also have a system that falsely assumes most families don’t need help with the cost of childcare before their child turns three”.
Catherine further outlined that “the trend that we had seen of more women staying in work has stalled – so we are now seeing an increase in new mums dropping out of the workplace, many for good. Not only that – around 29 per cent of women who are not working state it is to look after family, compared with around 7 per cent of men. This has risen by 5 per cent in just the past year – the first sustained increase in 30 years”.
Concluding, Catherine added “we need a childcare system that helps not only to make the lives of families and their children better, but to make our economy work. We cannot stand by whilst it becomes too expensive for mothers to work, forcing women back into the home for the sake of those few precious early years, out of sheer economic necessity.
“Early years childcare and support is as essential for parents to get to work as the roads and the rail it provides so many benefits to society beyond that. And until we approach it as the vital infrastructure it clearly is we will let down women, families, and the whole economy.”