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Officials Contradict Labour's Childcare Policy

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

3 February 2005

Officials contradict Labour's childcare policy

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says Helen Clark's claims that Labour's commitment to childcare will increase women's participation in the workforce is at odds with her official advice.

Official papers obtained by Mr English show that Government officials have been strongly critical of the main plank of Labour's childcare policy, which is 20-hours free childcare in community-owned centres only.

Mr English says officials were almost unanimously opposed to the policy, with some suggesting it would discourage women from going to work.

Officials from the Department of Labour said the policy sends confusing signals regarding labour market participation, 'the private sector, which tends to more responsive to parent demand in terms of demand is set aside.... in favour of community-based providers, many of which are not at all oriented towards parent labour market needs'.

The Ministry of Social Development said: 'We do not support restricting free entitlements to community-based centres. This approach is likely to significantly distort ECE participation and labour market participation patterns and could threaten the viability of some private ECE services.'

Treasury said 'An important pre-requisite for many parents wishing to enter, or stay in, the labour market is that they can access childcare that they are comfortable with. If parents are not happy with the community-based care available to them and cannot afford other options they might revisit their choice to work or the hours they work'.

"Labour's prejudiced childcare policy might fit in with Helen Clark's ideas about families and what's best for children but it doesn't work for parents and toddlers," says Mr English.

Ends

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