Affordable Childcare 'Would Save £1.5bn'
Providing universal affordable childcare could save the taxpayer up to £1.5bn a year by allowing more mothers to go back to work, according to an influential think-tank.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claims three-quarters of women with a youngest child aged three or four want to work, but are unable to do so because of the amount of free childcare currently available.
The report by the left-leaning think-tank highlighted the experience in the Canadian province of Quebec, following the introduction of cut-price universal childcare back in 1997.
The daily rate of around £2.80 is credited with leading to an 8% increase in working mothers.
The IPPR calculated that increasing employment among mothers of pre-school children by 10% could generate £1.45bn for the Treasury - £500m from extra tax revenues and £950m in savings on tax credits and benefits.
A rise of 5% would generate £750m and just one per cent £200m.
And the report said a similar level of return for the Treasury could be provided from mothers currently in part-time work taking advantage of affordable provision to go full-time.
The IPPR argues that a key priority for the Government should be universal, flexible and affordable childcare, available through community institutions such as children's centres, rather than through cash benefits or tax-free vouchers.
Spencer Thompson, of the IPPR, told Sky News: "Parents who are unable to afford childcare at the moment will find that it's making it difficult to balance work with family life.
"What we want for them is to be able to afford childcare so they can achieve the right balance between work and care.
"For that it needs to be cheaper, it needs to be more flexible, it needs to be more available."
A government spokesman said: "The Government's long-term plan is to build a stronger, more competitive economy and a fairer society.
"Because we're getting the public finances back under control, we have been able to help people who work hard, including by making childcare more affordable."
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