5th July 2022

We know that right now, the childcare system doesn’t work for women. Yesterday, the government announced a package of measures that are intended to reduce childcare costs and increase support for parents. It comes as we publish new research, Childcare and Early Education Systems, that compares childcare systems in countries which are similar to the UK economically and socially, sponsored by PACEY and the Pavers Foundation. 

Our CEO, Jemima Olchawski responds: 

“Right now, the UK’s childcare’s system is broken. It doesn’t work for families, and it certainly doesn’t work for women who so often, bear the brunt of balancing childcare and work, against life's busy demands.  

Whilst the Government announced its vision to improve our childcare system yesterday, the proposal was piecemeal and put simply, it does not go far enough to make the urgent change needed. What is desperately needed, and what our research shows is happening in comparable countries, is significant public spending to revolutionise our childcare provision and increase affordability.  

Our research shows that the UK is the only country where parents on lower incomes pay more for childcare. At a time where many women, under the strain of the cost-of-living crisis and stagnating wages, are facing extraordinary financial pressure, the government’s proposal offers no immediate investment to alleviate that. Instead, it proposes to consult on relaxing staff-to-child ratios with the hope that it will lower fees. This is completely at odds with what the sector has been saying.  

A qualified workforce accompanied by staff to child ratios that allow for quality care and education are critical to supporting child development. Reducing ratios will also put additional strain on a workforce, which we know is already working with limited resources, often for less than the living wage. 

As our research shows, a broken childcare system isn’t inevitable. Whilst other countries such as Japan, Canada and Switzerland invest to reform and improve childcare, the Government propose solutions that will reduce childcare quality and in turn, disadvantage our children.  

The evidence shows fixing the childcare system will unlock the potential of families across the UK, support children to build solid foundations for their future and it is a vital step that will increase women’s participation in the labour market. It goes hand-in-hand with employers offering decent parental leave policies that genuinely encourage men to take on caring roles and where flexible working is embedded into our work culture – so that women who’ve had children can thrive at work.  

We urge the government to reconsider its proposal and ensure that the UK is not left behind.”  

Helen Donohoe, Policy Advisor at PACEY comments:  

“PACEY is proud of the services that early years and childcare professionals work hard to deliver every day for children. There is already a wealth of evidence, backed up in this review, of the positive impact this has on child development, education and well-being as well as helping lift families out of poverty. But against a backdrop of government under-funding, and a lack of long-term vision or national strategy, we know their efforts alone are not sustainable.  

We have seen recent willingness from Government to make changes to improve the system. Rather than piecemeal tinkering with regulations, what we need is Government to recognise is that the whole system needs fixing. It needs to work with the sector to ensure a long-term plan to address the well-documented and embedded barriers that have to be removed to ensure early education and childcare in this country is well supported as it is in other countries. We are urging Government to learn from the best evidence, listen to practitioners on the ground and draw on innovation and best practice already taking place in England and further afield. 

PACEY is proposing a three-point plan: to improve integration of family and children support services at a local level, reform the early education and childcare funding system and a put in place a national workforce plan to address the crisis in recruitment and retention in the childcare and early years sector. Only then can we ensure that our early years and childcare sector is supported to provide the world-leading service that children deserve.” 


  • Read our latest report, Childcare and Early Education Systems here
  • For media enquiries, please contact Fresh Communication 07769 66 66 27 / [email protected]