Sunday, 8 March 2009

Harrogate Conference: Childcare

How many different ways are there of saying that childcare is A Good Thing And We Should Have More Of It?

Quite a lot, apparently, judging by the debate on the subject at Lib Dem conference. Speaker after speaker lined up to say the proposals for up to 20 hours per week flexible childcare from age 18 months and for parental leave of a total of 19 months, to be split between the parents as they see fit, were a thoroughly good thing.

All in all, that made the debate one of those which covers a quite important subject, but is actually quite dull because everyone's agreeing with each other.

Summing up the debate, my local MP Danny Alexander emphasised that the proposals would cost quite a bit to implement and that tough choices would have to be made on things like cash for new roads (not including the A9, A96 and A82, obviously).

But one thing we need to spell out more clearly is how businesses, particularly small businesses, will be helped with implementing the new childcare proposals. We need to ensure we're not giving our opponents a stick to beat us with in terms of putting new burdens on already struggling small firms.

You can read the full childcare proposals here.

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