As Justine Roberts says, there is a crisis in the affordability and availability of good quality childcare in the UK (I asked Boris Johnson about the childcare crisis. His answer? ‘More Tumble Tots’, 14 June) . But his suggestion that a government-backed child care loan system would solve the financial dilemmas they face would be laughable if it weren’t so serious, especially after the lessons they should have learned about the student loan system.
Childcare loans won’t solve this problem for parents, many of whom struggle to provide their children with adequate food, clothing, shoes, and heat when they’re at home.
But this misses the main point, which is that all children are entitled to at least the basics of a decent life as they grow up. We all know and understand the research that shows that children’s physical, emotional, social, and educational needs must be met if they are to have a good chance for positive, healthy outcomes later in life. It’s not rocket science, we know it’s true.
The ultimate goal must be free, good-quality child care available to all. In the meantime, childcare should be introduced, duly subsidized through the tax system. Costs could be supplemented by payments from parents who work full time and have sufficient income. If it can work in other countries like Finland, why can’t we make it work here? It is not a luxury or a choice, it is an urgent necessity for our children, our society and all our futures.
Laura Bates is absolutely right to point out the extraordinary difficulty many women face when childcare costs rise and their wages don’t (childcare costs are forcing women in Britain out of work. No it has to be this way, June 15).
However, it is not only women who decide to stay home with their preschool children. My husband was happy to sacrifice his financial security to be a stay-at-home dad. And in the days when flexible working was in his infancy, he carved out a second career for himself, even though he paid less than my job. In the meantime, it seemed like an onerous responsibility to be the main breadwinner in the family and there were times when I felt lost. There are gains and losses on both sides that are not purely economic.
There is certainly a long-term financial hit when it comes to occupational pensions, which is something that needs to be discussed between parents early on to ensure mutual long-term financial security. Perhaps employers should also chip in, as stay-at-home parents won’t need to interrupt their employer’s business when it comes to sick children.
Ryde, Isle of Wight