Coalition’s childcare boost under threat

By staff

The coalition's plans to help working parents with universal childcare costs are already running into trouble.

Negotiations between the 'quad' of David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander have reportedly led to an impasse, preventing the launch of the policy next week.

The proposal to give tax relief worth about £2,000 for each child aged under five was one of the biggest ideas to emerge from the coalition's midterm review earlier this week.

Now disagreement over whether the tax credits will be available to every parent and Liberal Democrat complaints about the Treasury being "difficult" are holding up further progress, the Telegraph reported.

Clegg said yesterday the measure was "explicitly and self-consciously targeted at working families who do not receive universal credits".

Proposals to reform the state pension are now expected to be given centre stage next week instead.

"Two days after the government's failed relaunch, its childcare plans have descended into shambles," shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg commented.

"While parents face ever higher costs, ministers are dithering and arguing without an end in sight.

"Families need help now to ensure affordable childcare. But the Tories want to cut nursery staff and increase the number of children they look after, which experts warn won't help with costs and could threaten child safety."

Concern about the safety of children in childcare is growing among professionals. Three in five members of the National Childminding Association surveyed recently said they felt that care would be compromised if ratios increased further.