Policy

Why I Would Divert Childcare Funds to Sink Estates

29 Jan 2013 at 08:44

OK, you might say I don’t have a right to a view on this. I’m male, gay, and don’t have children, but I am a taxpayer, so that surely gives me a right. Anyway, deep breath, here goes.

Why, dear reader, why is it that middle class parents think that the rest of us should subsidise their childcare needs? When people have children, don’t they consider these issues before they decide to have them? If not, why not? It may seem a callous thing to say, but if you can’t afford to have kids, don’t have them. But surely that’s the responsible thing to do. Middle class parents who don’t think about how they will need to change lifestyles are just as irresponsible as the mythical single mother who deliberately gets herself pregnant to get a council flat. In fact, they are worse. At least the single mother is capable of rational choice.

So when I hear Children’s Minister Liz Truss bleating on about how she can’t find a nursery place for love nor money my sympathy is somewhat limited. Why? Because her solution seems not only to be to encourage private providers to provide more places, it is for the government to provide more subsidy. And in that, she is supported by the Prime Minister. I just don’t see that government has a role here beyond imposing minimal regulation on private sector nurseries. Fine, if the government wants to get into the nursery provision business, let it do so but charge commercial rates.

The aim of encouraging women back into the workplace may be a laudable one, but isn’t encouraging mothers or fathers to stay at home to rear their children an equally laudable one. [cue feminist outrage]? it is stay at home mothers and fathers we should be supporting – parents who put their children before their careers. They are the ones who are making the real sacrifices, but do they ever get a mention in this debate? Very rarely.

Listen, I’m not having a go at parents who through economic necessity have to go back to work as soon as they have a child. But I am having a go at middle class yummy mummies and daddies who seem to think it is their God given right to have children and hang the consequences for the rest of us. it is not government’s job, or the taxpayer’s job to solve their self made problems for them.

If we have extra money to spend to improve the life prospects of children let’s spend it where it is really needed – in the sink estates. That’s where the real childcare problems are. Give the money to Louise Casey. She’d spend it far more wisely than well meaning Department of Education civil servants.

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