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Early Education and Childcare

WBG analysis and policies on provision for children under five

Photo of a family with two adults and two children playing with blocks on a table.

Investment in Early Education and Childcare, part of our vital social infrastructure, has huge potential to boost the economy, support children’s development, help families and contribute to a gender equal economy. Our modelling has evidenced that investment in early education and childcare creates 2.5 times the number of jobs as the same investment in construction and yields greater tax returns to the Exchequer as well as reductions in spend on social security benefits as it enables more parents – usually women – to work additional hours.

At the moment, however, the early education and childcare system in England is not working for children, parents, workers or the wider economy because of the lack of affordability and availability for parents, caused by chronic underfunding and long-term structural problems.

The Women’s Budget Group incubated and now houses the Early Education and Childcare Coalition.  The Coalition unites the voices of all those with a stake in the future of early education and care – children, parents, providers, the early education workforce, and the wider business community.

We propose a rescue and reform approach.

In the short term, policies should focus on addressing the crisis in the sector by increasing funding and creating a workforce strategy. Our early education and childcare sector is in a very fragile state. Any additional pressures could lead it to collapse, as providers close and workers continue to leave the sector. A rescue plan is needed to ensure a minimum level of sustainability and security in terms of resources.

In the long term, we propose moving to a model of universal and high-quality childcare, free at the point of use for every child, recognising the importance of early education and childcare for children, parents and the wider economy.

UK Policy Briefing

Losses in the Childcare Sector

This briefing examines new data from the Department of Education revealing a significant fall in the number of childcare providers since April 2020.

Upcoming and past events on Early Education and Childcare

Blog Post

Childcare concerns us all

This blog discusses costs of childcare, which disproportionately affect women's earnings and hinder workforce participation.