Universal childcare

children, economy, families, finance, personal finances, UK politics

Author(s):  Nick Pearce
Published date:  26 Sep 2012
Source:  Ethos

The long-term affordability of the welfare state depends in large part on how many people are in employment and paying their taxes.

One of the reasons why the public finances of the Nordic countries are in such good repair is that they have universal, affordable childcare systems. These underpin high employment rates, particularly among mothers.

Evidence gathered by the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that universal childcare in the UK would pay for itself over time, through increased taxes paid by parents returning to work. Good-quality early learning also boosts social mobility, so universal pre-school childcare would constitute a double win. 

It would, of course, cost money in the short term. We propose paying for it by freezing Child Benefit and cutting higher-rate tax relief for pension contributions, among other measures. The long-term gains would be huge.


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