Victory for Hackney childcare campaigners after government U-turn
PUBLISHED: 12:17 18 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:20 18 June 2013
Hackney campaigners and families are celebrating after the government backed down on controversial plans to increase the number of children that childminders look after last Wednesday (June 11).
In January, early years minister Elizabeth Truss outlined proposals to increase the number of under-one-year-old children that a childminder can manage from one to two and the number of one-to-five-year-olds that they can manage from three to four in a Department for Education report called More Great Childcare.
The report also proposed to steeply increase the ratio of nursery children – with the number of under two-year-olds a nursery staff member could care for increasing from three to four and the number of two-year-olds they can look after from four to six.
However the plans were dropped last Wednesday after Ms Truss admitted “it was not possible to reach cross-government agreement”.
Carole Wardrop, speaking on behalf of Hackney Childminders group who have been part of a national campaign opposing the plans, said: “We’re glad the government has listened to us. Hackney’s childminders have always said that the government wasn’t right in what it was proposing. It didn’t make sense and would have reduced the quality of childcare - not improved it.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They need to go and focus on more important matters like improving our local economy than interfering in matters they clearly do not understand.”
Hackney cllr Ian Rathbone, who has also been campaigning against the changes, welcomed the governments U-turn, saying: “We were concerned about it as they were making a mistake. These proposals were not for parents. They were for some minister making a career out of it.
“University professors, childminders. childcare associations all said the government was going up the wrong road and they have only now started to listen.”
Hackney MP, Meg Hilier, admitted she had been regularly stopped by residents due to the “strength of the feeling” about the issue.
She said: “Parents and childcarers in Hackney repeatedly told me increasing the number of young children an adult can look after is just not what they want. It took the government too long to realise this and even now the children’s minister still believes it’s the right thing to do.
“The Government needs to get on and solve the cost and availability of childcare for under 5s and after school. While politicians bicker families are struggling.”