Diane Abbott backs Hackney childminders’ campaign

Diane Abbott is supporting Hackney childminders’ campaign against government proposals they fear will endanger children and reduce their earnings.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington met with childminders last week and vowed to take their concerns to the government.

Childminders are up in arms over a report by Elizabeth Truss MP which recommended that the number of children childminders can look after at once should be increased from three children under three years to five.

It also proposed childminders should be registered and inspected through a private agency but those caring for under five children are unregulated.

Ms Abbott said: “I hope the proposal will be dropped.

“I think that childminders are very important to working women. Deregistering them isn’t the best thing for children or mothers or the childminders.”

She said increasing the number of children they look after at once would be a “mistake”.

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“They can’t give more children the same amount of care and childminders would no longer be registered by Ofsted and I think that is astounding.

“I plan to raise it with the government ministers and contact the Tory MP who is promoting these ideas and ask her about the fears that ordinary childminders have.”

A meeting organised by childminders in Hackney on May 29 was attended by Leabridge Cllr Ian Rathbone and Deputy Mayor Karen Alcock.

Cllr Rathbone said: “I share their concerns. I’m married to a childminder so I see how much work they do. Most of them are paid the minimum wage and sometimes less than that. They are really dedicated people.

“They feel insulted by the taking away of their professional standards which they are proud of.”

He added: “Hackney has quite a good record but I think one of the problems for getting support is that people say it’s just looking after kids and anyone can do that but it’s actually doing a very skilled job.”

They have created a petition against the proposals. Email Cllr Rathbone for details at Ian.Rathbone@hackney.gov.uk. The national petition is available at http://www.change.org/petitions/uk-government-reject-proposals-to-deregulate-childminders