Jean Gemmell PAT/PANN general secretary said: "We welcome the recognition by both parties of the importance of childcare.
"We would welcome a reform of the tax credit system - especially if nannies were
included - and greater flexibility and help with costs for parents. However, quantity
must not be at the expense of quality. Regulation is necessary for the sake of children and carers.
"In an ideal world, extending school-based childcare outside normal school hours
would put schools at the heart of their communities by extending the concept of
'education', but the government must back its good intentions with the funding and
training necessary to provide and equip the skilled education, childcare and health
professionals needed to put these plans into action.
"The pay, working conditions, training needs and professional status of nursery nurses
and other childcarers must be addressed if any of these proposals from the two parties
are to succeed. Unless there are improvements, the government - of whatever party - will not be able to recruit enough properly trained and qualified practitioners.
"PANN would like to see all nursery staff qualified up to the standard of NVQ level
three. At the moment, the rule is that 50 per cent of staff in nursery establishments have to be qualified.
"We would also like the government to subsidise nurseries so that they could pay
their staff more and ensure more mentoring and career progression.
"People who come into childcare only do so because they're very dedicated. They
would get more money working in the supermarkets. A lot of staff are working on
little more than the minimum wage. Many of our members are having to do two or
three jobs just to make ends meet.
"With such low wages in childcare, it's not surprising that there is such a high
turnover of staff at the moment."
Stakeholder Response: Institute of Directors
Richard Wilson, head of business policy at the Institute of Directors, said: "Both political parties should give serious consideration to paying Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay directly to the employees concerned. This would lighten the burden on employers and ease potential cashflow problems."