- 2007 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 19 February 2007
Conference notes that the Government’s policy of marketisation of public services extends to childcare. The Childcare Bill 2006 states that “English local authorities may not provide childcare for a particular child or group of children unless the local authority are satisfied:
1.no other person is willing to provide the childcare (whether in pursuance of arrangements with the authority or otherwise) or
2.if another person is willing to do so that in the circumstances it is
appropriate for the local authority to provide childcare”.
Government is committed to an ever increasing role for the private and voluntary sector in childcare provision with local authorities becoming commissioners and providers of the last resort.
Conference believes this will result in quality being sacrificed for quantity, with implications for the service to children and staff. The evidence is clear that better trained and qualified staff deliver higher quality services. It is also the case that public sector organisations overwhelmingly meet the national day care standards whilst significant parts of the private sector do not.
Government policy refuses to use the public sector as a driver of quality and to force future childcare into the hands of lower quality private and voluntary providers.
The withdrawal of Sure Start funding and financial pressures on local authorities are further increasing the role of private and voluntary sector providers.
a.Calls on the Service Group Executive to ensure branches and regions are kept informed of Government policy in relation to childcare and early years provision.
b.Encourage regions to map early years provision and council policy in relation to this.
c.Develop briefings for branches to maximise the opportunities for local authority provision and to protect jobs; terms and conditions and to provide quality training.
d.Ensure the campaign to publicise and oppose the marketisation of childcare is presented as part of UNISON’s Positively Public Campaign.