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Jo McCarron speaks to the Week In about the challenge parents face finding good, affordable childcare

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Read the article on page 14 of the Week In here...

Or read the full text of Jo's comments below:

"As a working mum, I know the stresses involved in finding the right childcare, particularly during the school holidays. My kids are now a bit older, but I really feel for parents facing childcare costs that are putting more pressure than ever before on the household budget, while fewer and fewer childcare places are available. Childcare should not be a barrier to parents wanting to return to work – that’s no good for anyone.

"I helped out this summer at the holiday play scheme run by Juice Community Project in Cadbury Heath. It’s free, it’s open every weekday afternoon during the school holidays, and above all it’s great fun for the kids and the volunteers who help supervise. Families with services like this on their doorstep are really lucky. For more and more parents, finding good, affordable holiday childcare is a real struggle. The average price of holiday childcare has gone up around 20% over the last five years. And only 27% of local authorities in England have enough holiday childcare for parents who work full-time – five years ago that figure was 49%.

"Childcare is obviously a particular concern during the holidays, but childcare throughout the year is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge. There are 35,000 fewer childcare places across the country than there were in 2010, and childcare costs have gone up five times faster than wages.

"As a result, pressure has been growing on the Government to act, and they have at least announced some extra help towards childcare costs in the form of an increase in the “childcare subsidy”. However, this amounts to only £400 a year for the average family, and will not be introduced until next year.

"More could definitely be done, and should be done – for the benefit of parents, and the wider economy. Labour has set out fully funded plans to provide an extra 10 hours a week of free childcare for working parents, worth £1500 per child per year. We have pledged to guarantee breakfast and homework clubs at school to ensure good quality care is available for all primary aged children. I’ve spoken to hundreds of local parents who back these plans – let’s hope that pressure on the Government to deliver this kind of meaningful help continues to grow."

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