REC Childcare has submitted a response to the childcare commission call for evidence. The childcare commission, led by education minister Sarah Teather MP and work and pensions minister Maria Miller MP, is looking at how to make childcare more affordable without compromising the safety or quality of provision.

In our response, we have outlined how increased flexibility in the UK labour market could provide a way for parents to effectively manage their professional commitments to plan childcare. The REC will shortly be publishing a report from our Flexible Work Commission on how flexibility will be a key driver of employment growth over the next decade and an essential route to widening labour market participation.

We have also argued that parents require affordable, high quality care and that they need more access to tax breaks and registered qualified nannies in order to access such care. The current Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register, the primary aim of which is to facilitate the voluntary registration of nannies in order to allow working parents to utilise childcare vouchers to offset the salary paid to a nanny, provides a useful model in this area. However, we have reiterated our doubts about the strength of the registration process for the existing register and our concern about how nannies and childminders continue to be lumped together by government.

Nannies provide high quality childcare after school and during school holidays but they are not the same as childminders. Nannies occupy a unique professional role, delivering high quality childcare in the families own home and therefore any process to register to them must appreciate that nannies and childminders perform different functions and therefore cannot be approached in the same way. The final words go to Judith Wayne, Chair of REC Childcare:

“Whilst it is great that government has launched the childcare commission to look at affordable childcare, they urgently need to act on the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register. Members continue to have serious concerns about the register’s robustness and the strength of current inspections, which we fear could potentially jeopardise the safety of children and families.

“The registration process is not delivering the safe and high quality provision parents expect and needs to be overhauled. We believe a new system of checks is required to guarantee the safe and high quality provision of flexible, affordable childcare.”