Childcare predictions | Incentive & Motivation

Viewpoints

Childcare predictions

Iain McMath, managing director of Sodexo Motivation Solutions, offers predictions for childcare ahead of the 2013 Budget.

“In George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last year, the lack of attention directed at childcare provisions left many disillusioned. Now, the debate over the cost of childcare has gathered pace and the Chancellor’s next steps will be the subject of close scrutiny. Few would deny that the childcare available in Britain is of an excellent standard, yet too many Britons are still struggling to pay for it.

“We’re encouraged by ongoing discussions within the government that shows its understanding of the scope of the childcare problem facing the nation’s working parents; this year’s budget should see major steps towards fixing this problem. There are many areas in which change is needed, however, and the Chancellor will have some difficult decisions to make in the coming days.

“We know that the government is dedicated to helping working parents and we hope that the Chancellor understands the value that childcare vouchers bring to this objective. The vouchers operate as a salary sacrifice, so rather than a benefit, they represent only a tax break for hard-working parents who are keen to stay in work and build their careers.

“The government will no doubt acknowledge that the current situation is one of near crisis; parents who want to work are being forced to stay at home by sky-high childcare costs. Even where parents are eligible, the maximum value derived from childcare vouchers (£55 per week) represents just a fifth of a week’s childcare costs in some parts of the country.

“The other major goal that we hope the government will target in this year’s budget is to make childcare vouchers available to the self-employed, as this omission has severely handicapped self-employed parents in the past.

“It is safe to say that childcare will continue to be ‘hot topic’ in the coming months, and this budget will need to recognise that fact. We hope that the cap on childcare vouchers will be raised more in line with inflation and rising childcare costs, and that the vouchers  will be made available to all working parents, whether self-employed or not. We are very interested to see exactly what changes will be made to the childcare voucher scheme and we will be paying very close attention to the situation on budget day.”

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