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14 November 2012
Commenting on news that the government is to announce grants of up to £500 from next April for people setting up a nursery or childminding business, Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice: the union for education professionals, and a former local authority childcare market commissioning manager, said:
“Such small grants won’t go very far in terms of recruiting, training or employing staff, or in setting up a nursery.
“The real issue for parents is affordability, rather than availability, of provision.
“If parents cannot afford to pay the fees that nurseries need to recruit and retain high quality, professional staff, then who will?
“The childcare sector cannot be expanded without more professional childcarers and they must be well trained, highly qualified and paid accordingly.
“We cannot increase the number of children in childcare while reducing the number or quality of staff who look after them or paying those staff such low wages that many leave the sector to work elsewhere.
“To recruit and retain a highly qualified workforce, there must be a robust career, training and salary structure.
“Using a third party to administer the system, when there are local authorities that have the experience and capacity to undertake this, seems ridiculous – especially when local authorities still have a duty to administer the local childcare market. This could have a destabilising effect on the local childcare market.
“We remain concerned about the possible deregulation of the childcare system and the impact that this will have on quality.”