Sunderland and Washington MP backs Nick Clegg’s u-turn on childcare

MP Sharon Hodgson

MP Sharon Hodgson

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WEARSIDE MP Sharon Hodgson has welcomed a move by Lib-Dem Nick Clegg to axe plans to relax child-to-staff ratios for childcare.

The Washington and Sunderland West Labour MP had campaigned against plans, announced earlier this year, to increase the number of children which child minders can take look after.

The proposals would have seen the number of under-ones allowed to be in the care of a child minder increase from three to four, and from four to six for children under two.

But yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister revealed he would block the plans because a consultation had shown its key aims would fail.

Mrs Hodgson had spoken of her concern for children’s safety, as well as the possibility of a “two-tier” system benefitting those able to pay more for childcare.

At a public meeting in April, the Shadow Education Minister for Children said the majority of parents and carers she had spoken to were against the plans.

“There’s a huge worry about the quality and the safety of the environment children would find themselves in,” she said.

“It could lead to a two-tier childcare provision, where you’d have nurseries for richer families and nurseries for poorer families.

“The ability in an emergency situation to account for every child with the higher ratios, the logistics are already tricky the way it is.