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decent pay and conditions for all childcare workers,  high-qualitY eARLY YEARS education AND CARE for all children, and an END to reliance on unpaid WORK 

Successive governments have failed EARLY YEARS.


Parents are left navigating an expensive, largely privatised and increasingly chain-dominated and de-regulated sector, while childcare workers (many also parents themselves) on average earn less than the minimum wage.

The decision to keep childcare settings open while closing schools, during the third lockdown, drew attention to the rights of the 363,400 childcare workers in our fragmented early years sector. 

It seemed the devaluing of childcare work had reached new lows.

Parents and carers were expected to both work and look after children during school and nursery closures. Nurseries struggled under the strain of underfunding and running costs. Children with additional needs missed out on vital early years support.

Meanwhile the situation of childminders was almost completely ignored – thousands of registered childminders fell through gaps in the SEISS. The situation of precarious workers, nannies, au pairs and unregistered childminders, particularly those with No Recourse to Public Funds status, worsened, hidden from view.


30 hours ‘free’ childcare for working parents, and 15 hour entitlements are underfunded, putting financial pressures on nurseries and childminders.


This has led to fee rises and extra costs for parents, and low wages for the childcare workforce. 

small, non-profit and public nurseries are closing.

The Sutton Trust previously pointed out that the 30 hours policy provides ‘longer hours in state-funded early education for children who are already relatively advantaged’. 

The number of nurseries closing in England had jumped by 153% since the launch of the policy. Places were being lost where children would benefit the most from quality nurseries. 

Small, non-profit and public nurseries (council-run day nurseries, and maintained nursery schools), that serve deprived communities, support children with SEND, and those learning English as a second language, and try to keep fees affordable, have long been closing their doors. 

but it’s not just underfunding, it’s where the funding goes.

England is exceptional within Europe in the extent that policy has promoted the provision of services by for-profit companies. 84% of childcare is delivered by for- profit providers, as opposed to 3% in Germany or 4% in France. 

decades of early years policy have promoted privatisation which has now led to financialisation – large chain takeovers.

Smaller nurseries in England are now being bought up by profit-focused companies, without necessarily creating more places or investing more in staff (UCL research, 2022).


Private childcare for children from 0-2 years (where there is no ‘free hours’ entitlement) costs between 45% and 60% of women’s salaries.

Meanwhile, childcare professionals – a 98% female workforce – continue to on average earn less than the minimum wage.

Our inadequate and unaffordable childcare system means many lower paid key workers, NHS workers, and lower income workers in general, continue to have to make use of the only really flexible option – unpaid care – family support.

Unpaid early years childcare is worth around £340 billion to the economy per year, yet remains ignored.

Child Benefit, the remnants of what was Family Allowance, once functioned as a small attempt to remunerate unpaid childcare work. It is now means-tested and has not risen with inflation since 2011.

the uk government relies on the exploitation of undocumented migrant workers to prop up the childcare sector.

The in-home 'informal' childcare workforce (which constitutes nannies, au pairs, and domestic workers) is overwhelmingly made up of migrant women.


This group of workers are often sidelined and pushed out of policy agendas by political parties and childcare campaigns alike. Yet this group is perhaps the most exploited in the childcare sector.

In-home domestic workers are not entitled to the minimum wage under the 'domestic worker exemption', leaving many open to abuse and modern slavery. The Government agreed to scrap the exemption in March 2022, but still hasn't announced a timescale for this.


We believe that a transformative childcare movement must include the voices of all those who rely and work in childcare - including the voices of migrant and informal workers.


We need a childcare movement that includes the voices of ALL workers.

We need to end government reliance on underpaid and unpaid childcare.


We need expanded policies for universal early years education and care for all children that truly value the work of childcare workers, who provide crucial education and care at the most important stage of children's development. This is vital to fight disadvantage and ‘level up’.

We need a new deal for childcare which recognises the importance of quality early years provision for all children and all parents

– Post Pandemic Childcare, 2022

Join OUR NExt Meeting!

We run regular online meetings where parents, carers, and workers from across the UK can come together to discuss the issues facing them and work together to campaign for solutions.

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