What is important about Thursday? Well, it’s the Chancellor’s autumn statement. I wonder whether he will still need to rely on the bursts of fast food energy which got him through the Budget. Or has he eaten enough brain food to come up with a few big ideas? If he needs a big idea then he could sort out the incoherent and confused mess we call childcare. That Cinderella Childcare, which despite its rags needs to provide affordable best quality childcare for those families where both parents work, those single parents who need to earn enough to secure their independence away from benefits and those children which the Coalition has deemed will increase their social mobility by attending the best quality nurseries. Yes, Mr Osborne you would do well to sprinkle some fairy dust on poor Cinderella Childcare and make her feel important and valued. You could start by recognising the importance of children to society and ask the question ‘what do we want for our children?’
Mr Osborne, I know you announced £1,200 a year for each child of parents on joint incomes up to £300,000 in March but that is not enough. Childcare has a cost too and it needs to be funded now. Your childcare plans don’t kick in until 2015 but for many that is far too late. A wise Chancellor may think about bringing those proposals forward to April 2014. Even if the benefits for children are not so high up on your agenda and you simply saw Cinderella Childcare as the service that allowed people to work, there is still an argument to fund the system correctly. That way those 76% women can work and keep their families out of poverty.
I have seen you continue to be generous to Mr Gove. He gets plenty of money to develop Academies and Free Schools; not all of this has been well spent with recent league tables show that we have gone down in the global education league. It is therefore time that you considered the needs of the youngest children. A recent poll for the Resolution Foundation revealed that 4 in 10 voters said not one single political party had smart ideas on childcare. Only 11 per cent favoured Labour, and a meagre 4 per cent the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Chancellor, the autumn statement gives the Government the opportunity to make a clear statement of intent to support and help families. This is your chance to do something magical. Sprinkle some fairy dust on Cinderella Childcare and you might even raise a smile from the electorate. Believe me, you will need that smile sooner than you think.