Dr Jana Javornik discusses why childcare is a key battleground in the general election
Putting the UKs childcare cost crisis in perspective, it is worth highlighting how other countries, many of them Nordic, have forged ahead with making universal, quality childcare a priority.
Dr Javornik comments on the Labour Party's promise of a universal quality childcare service.
Dr Javornik discusses this in her article "Why UK should follow Nordics’ lead on universal childcare", which is featured in the Conversation.
The Labour Party view this as a "strategic political, social and economic imperative". Other political parties are also demonstrating their own commitments. The Liberal Democrats have promised to provide 15 hours of free childcare a week, whilst the Conservatives say they plan to increase the tax-free childcare scheme from £1,200 to £2,000 a year per child.
Dr Javornik suggests this may be a way of enticing female voters. However such policy commitments affect many others including fathers, grandparents and taxpayers in general. Putting the UK's childcare cost crisis in perspective, it is worth highlighting how other countries, many of them Nordic, have forged ahead with making universal, quality childcare a priority.
The cost of childcare is also rising, with a 27% increase since 2009. Childcare is becoming more and more unaffordable. Recent figures from the Family and Childcare Trust's 2014 Annual Childcare cost survey, concludes that "even part-time childcare costs outstrip the average mortgage- for a family with two children, the cost for one child in part-time nursery care and one in an after school club is £7,549 a year, compared to the average UK mortgage of £7,207."
Childcare costs also impact of women's employment prospects. They operate in the same way as the reduction in female wages: the higher they are, the lower the probability of women’s employment. "Insurance company LV= reports that mums believed they needed to earn an average of more than £26,000 a year to make it worth returning to work." This further confirms that childcare availabilty and affordability significantly affect female labour supply.
Dr Javornik continues on by discussing demand-led childcare subsidy and the Nordic alternative.