Thousands of children across Wales are missing out on childcare

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    Thousands of children across Wales are missing out on childcare

    Tens of thousands of kids are missing out on vital childcare due to a lack of provision in poor and rural areas, a leading charity claims.

    Across Wales 54% of councils don’t provide adequate care for children aged 5-11, while this increases to at least 73% in some areas.

    Meanwhile, some 95% of kids are in local authority areas that do not have enough activities for 12-14 year olds.

    The figures were compiled by the Family and Childcare Trust in Wales.

    Jill Rutter, policy and research head said: “We are talking about tens of thousands of kids missing out. In Wales you’ve got 180,000 under fives. Almost all of them are in areas where is not sufficient childcare. There are 115,000 five to 14-year-olds. The vast majority are living in Wales without sufficient childcare. Some parents can perhaps use grandparents and some parents work part time. Child care is associated with levels of child poverty in Wales and we know maternal employment in Wales is lower than in many parts of the UK,” she said. “If there was a bit more childcare, particularly in deprived and rural areas it would be easier for single mothers to find work and extend their hours.”

    She said not being able to work would prove a bigger cost to the public purse than providing childcare.

    “This is a real issue,” Ms Rutter added.

    Authorities that do not provide enough childcare should be “taken to task” she said.

    “The gaps are not so acute for under fives because you have got things like Flying Start. That is a Welsh Government programme to help youngsters in some of Wales’ poorest places. But if you’re part of a family living outside of a deprived area that can be a problem. Flying Start has set up nurseries in deprived areas like the Valleys and some seaside towns but that provision is very much targeted at urban areas. If you’re a poor person living in the middle of Carmarthenshire you’ll not have Flying Start support.”

    She also said Wales could benefit from more money being given to the Welsh Government from Westminster.

    “We are not talking about tens of millions but one or two million pounds, less than five. More childcare needed to be provided by the public sector. In Britain 65% of nurseries are run privately.Private childcare providers need to at least break even, but they want to make a profit. In deprived and rural areas it is much harder to make a profit. In the Valleys and deprived seaside towns, and whole swathes of countryside, it’s very difficult to make a profit.”

    The Welsh Government faced an “uphill battle”.

    “Welsh local authorities have done much better than their counterparts in England but from a much lower place,” Ms Rutter said.

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