Childcare grants for North East families will be trialled under a new mayor, Labour’s North East mayoral candidate has promised. Kim McGuinness has said her mayoralty will step in to fill the gaps in the Conservative’s crisis-hit childcare policy and remove the barriers to work.
If elected this May, Kim has promised to trial childcare measures for those who can’t go to work or are stuck in low paid jobs because they can’t get childcare. The trials will also seek to help mothers who wish to return to work or improve their income but feel trapped without the support they need.
The government’s under-fire childcare policy is not currently available to those in training, or for those with children younger than two-years-old. The age barrier drops in September but still excludes the youngest children.
“Families are struggling”
Kim has also promised to invest in skills training for the day-to-day employment that powers the North East economy, including carers and nursery staff. She said:
“Families are struggling and the current offer just doesn’t do enough.
“At the same time, our nursery provider are talking about a staffing crisis because this Government won’t invest in those key workers who make up the day to day economy.
“So we need to help families in the immediate short-term with, for example, childcare grants for those on a training scheme, and we need to invest in nursery work as a viable career option by reforming how we use the skills training budget.
“If you’re applying for skills training or back to work training funded by the Mayor’s office, I’ll make sure that childcare isn’t the limiting factor in you getting a job.”
The childcare grants form part of a wider look at how families are helped into work and how young people are given careers guidance beyond the classroom. The mayoral candidate said she would be exploring support for after-school clubs and pre-apprenticeship sessions that help young people find an alternative career path to university.
Kim also promised to work with the Labour Party nationally to ensure its plans for free breakfast clubs for every primary school pupil are a success in the North East.
As the cost-of-living crisis grows, too many families cannot afford the early childcare, before and after school clubs that boost children’s learning and development, and this is contributing to a growing attainment gap.
The next Labour Government will introduce fully funded breakfast clubs for every primary school in England.
Breakfast clubs will be the “first step on the road to a modern childcare system”, supporting families from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school.