Miliband is banging on about introducing free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, over and above what the coalition has actually made available which is 15 hrs a week free.
We can, allegedly, trust them to understand the problems and the benefits that good quality childcare bring to the economy as well as to individuals.
In Wales childcare costs are rocketing and the Welsh Labour Government are as usual insisting they are on the case. Their Flying Start programme which gives 12.5 hrs a week free childcare to 2 to 3 year olds in the most deprived areas is proof that they care and are committed to better provision they say. The fact that this provision is in no way dependent upon whether the parents of the children are working or in training and so no really providing a solution for working parents seems to have passed them by.
Here in RCT of course the Council have their own solution, no doubt designed to help them meet their manifesto commitments to ensure “the demand for improved services is balanced with affordable Council Tax levels,” “ensure fairness, equality in the delivery of services, promoting progress towards greater social justice and the need for sustainable communities” and of course “focus on delivering better outcomes for local communities and continue to ensure a cost effective operation and delivery of Council functions and services.”
They are suggesting that childcare costs in RCT run nurseries increase by 7.3% to more than £44 a day. Now isn’t that helpful? This at a time when there will potentially be greater demand because of their decision regarding the cutting of nursery education. (A decision that is of course currently on hold pending a possible judicial review.)
It doesn’t stop there, however. RCT Officers are busy converting some of their day Nurseries into pure Flying Start centres which will not offer general childcare to anyone not part of that programme. They have even been actively encouraging private Day Nurseries to go down the same route.
It is yet more evidence of the complete lack of joined up thinking in RCT at both Member and Officer level. There is no innovation and absolutely no idea of what they need to do in order to make any economic progress and move certain areas up through the deprivation ranks.
There is no political drive or control even. Labour Members are content to simply pick up their salaries and accept the recommendations of Officers. This was clearly seen during the budget setting process when the information they were making decisions on was woefully inadequate. It is even more clearly exhibited by checking their manifesto against their delivery.
What hope is there for the future of RCT when there is so little in the way of leadership?