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Childcare reforms to appease middle-class voters

Dr Clare Lyonette from the Institute for Employment Research specialises in work and family life. She gave her response to the new childcare reforms:

"Anything which helps with the high cost of childcare in the UK is welcome. However, the fact that this is a universal scheme for working families, including those earning up to £300,000 per annum, seems to be skewed in the wrong direction. Why not focus on those working parents most in need of help? We know that many low-income families find it hard to pay for formal childcare and often have to draw in parents and other relatives to help with childcare for short periods while they are working. Unable to rely on this support on a full-time basis, the female partner often resports to taking on short-hour part-time, low-paid work, in order to contribute to the household income.

"Women in such jobs are not necessarily those without qualifications and they often end up working in jobs well below their skills and education levels. Once in these jobs, they often get stuck, with long-term negative implications for their careers and pension pots. On the other hand, families with higher-paid jobs will be more able to pay for childcare, regardless of the government's reforms. This is not to excuse the current costs of childcare in the UK for all families – we pay more than just about any other country in the OECD for our childcare. However, in these straitened times, perhaps we should be targeting those who really need help with childcare, rather than appeasing middle-class voters."

To speak to Dr Lyonette, please call Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Senior Press and Communications Manager, 02476 150868, 07824 540863,