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COMMENT: Plan lacks any common sense
10:00am Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
MUCH like too many policies recently, the Government’s plan to allow more children to be looked after by childminders begins to unravel spectacularly when you apply it to the real world.
The long-standing notion that childcare is too expensive and the cost needs to come down so that some parents can get back to work is a sound one.
But scrapping previous ratios of adult to children in the hope nurseries will lower charges is just at odds with any of us with common sense who live outside the Westminister policy bubble.
The fundamental flaw is that we are dealing with commercial enterprises that, whatever the best intentions of their founders, are there to turn a profit.
There will be only a handful of businesses who, after cutting these staff costs, will then so generously pass on the savings to hard-pressed parents.
And if they do do that, the reality is it will be the staff who bear the brunt with an increased workload.
Yet the majority of nurseries – be they reputable businesses who will shun increasing the number of children per staff member or fly-by-night merchants who will see it as simply a cost-cutter to ramp up profit – will ignore the Government’s desired outcome.
There is also the added complication for the Government that the present ratios were introduced because they were considered the minimum for a good standard of care.
So either the Government is now saying those safeguards were a nonsense or it is prepared to compromise the care of children to make a notional economic theory work.
All in all it is just more muddled work from policy makers who are seemingly increasingly out of touch with what really happens outside of the SW1 postcode.