Opinion - Mary Creagh MP: Investing in our mothers

MP Mary Creagh
MP Mary Creagh

Mother’s Day was the day we said thank you to our mums for everything they do.

I spend most Friday afternoons at school gates and from talking to mums in Wakefield I know that they need a break. The cost of rent, energy and food bills and childcare keeps going up, while wages stay the same, so mums are facing difficult decisions to make ends meet.

One of the biggest problems that parents talk to me about is the cost of childcare. Parents locally are facing a childcare crisis of this government’s making.

Prices are up 30 per cent since the election. Places are plummeting and Sure Start children’s centres have suffered a 25 per cent loss of funding despite David Cameron’s pre-election promise to protect them.

Support for parents has also been cut with some parents getting £1,500 less help with childcare support through working tax credits being cut. This is having a real impact on the ability of mums to go out to work.

Mums who need help with childcare got little comfort from the Budget. Whilst new support through tax-free childcare is a start, families struggling now won’t see any benefit until after the 2015 election. David Cameron and Nick Clegg haven’t spent a single penny to improve support for childcare; in fact they’ve removed £1,500 per family.

Labour understands the huge pressure families are under. That’s why we’d go further. On top of Tax-Free Childcare we’ll extend free childcare for working families with three and four-year-olds by an extra 10 hours, to 25 hours a week, 38 weeks a year.

This will mean that for the first time, a second earner in a family will be able to work part-time without having to worry about paying for childcare. This increase in childcare support is worth £1,500 per child and will help mums to get back to work or work the hours they want.

And we’ll introduce a guarantee in law to ensure every parent has access to before and after-school care through primary schools because we know how hard it is juggling working hours with school hours.

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to say thank you to our mums and show how grateful we are for the loving work they do.

But mums need a break every day not just on Mother’s Day. Labour understands the pressures mums face. That’s why we will invest in childcare and make childcare work for working mums.