The quality, not quantity, of childcare needs improving

30 June 2015 16:43

The Chancellor has found himself a treasure chest: childcare. In his quest for full employment, it’s seen as crucial for boosting maternal employment. Helping parents with punishingly high childcare costs… Continue reading

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps arrives to meet Conservative party activists as he helps with their canvassing in a residential area of Street on April 2, 2015 in Somerset, England.

Campaign kick-off: 15 days to go

22 April 2015 9:05

The general election campaign is beginning to feel a little staid. Maybe there was too much excitement over the attacks and TV debates, or maybe the parties are running out… Continue reading

Members of the Shadow Cabinet (L) listen as Ed Miliband (R), the leader of the Labour Party, launches his party's general election manifesto in the Old Granada Studios in Manchester, Northern England on April 13, 2015.

Ten things you need to know about Labour’s manifesto

13 April 2015 15:45

Labour has launched its election manifesto in Manchester today, entitled ‘Britain can be better’. The document (pdf here) includes some new policies and others already announced. Here are ten key… Continue reading

(Photo: Carl Court/Getty)

Will Nick Clegg’s PMQs session highlight the tensions in the Coalition?

8 December 2014 12:38

After being too busy talking to ‘normal people’ in Cornwall last Wednesday and missing previous PMQs presumably to do the same, Nick Clegg will not only be attending this Wednesday’s… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Delivers His Keynote Speech At The Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Nick Clegg’s cojones

24 April 2014 13:13

Mr and Mrs Clegg attended the launch yesterday evening of Cityfathers, a group designed for fathers working in the Square Mile. With the kind of spontaneity that smacks of an… Continue reading

Alistair Darling Poses Before Leaving To Give His First Budget Speech

George Osborne’s last chance: 40p…or childcare?

14 March 2014 17:27

Next week’s Budget is the last chance for George Osborne to make a ‘game-changing reform’. Backbench Tories have been clamouring for Osborne to reduce the number of people paying the… Continue reading

Image: Getty

The coalition has stabilised childcare costs – so why do headlines suggest they’re rising?

4 March 2014 16:10

You may have heard about the Family and Childcare Trust’s survey today, about the costs of childcare. You wouldn’t know it from the headlines but it actually found that in… Continue reading

Statistics Suggest Poverty Is A Major Issue For Scottish Children

The SNP school Labour in politics. Again.

8 January 2014 12:20

Alex Salmond might not wish to be compared to Gordon Brown but there is one sense in which the two dominant Scottish political personalities of the age are more alike… Continue reading

All the policy options on childcare point to getting someone else to mind your children. But what about policies that encourage parents to look after their own children?

Here’s a thought about child care: what about giving parents some choice?

19 November 2013 17:05

George Bernard Shaw made no bones about the merits of schooling: it was, he felt, a way for parents to offload the care of their children onto other people, and… Continue reading


Ed Balls’ new plans would leave taxpayers with world’s highest childcare bill

23 September 2013 20:39

Up until about 2004, the Labour government’s strategy of fighting poverty by concentrating on three priorities – government spending, government spending and government spending – had seemed to work rather… Continue reading

Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband’s seaside start

22 September 2013 10:47

Ed Miliband’s interview on the Andrew Marr show neatly summed up the Labour leader’s problems in cutting through. Marr started with a series of questions about Miliband’s plans to change… Continue reading

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne Visits A Nursery

Yes, stay-at-home mothers have made a “lifestyle choice”

6 August 2013 13:06

Blimey, George Osborne has got something right! Astonishing scenes. Suppose the government thought it a good idea for us to eat more bananas and, recognising that bananas have become extremely… Continue reading

The politics of childcare has become too emotional. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Childcare for all: a necessity not a luxury

7 June 2013 10:36

How many small children do you think you could look after? Three? Four? Maybe not even one without someone else on hand? It’s a question Liz Truss says she is… Continue reading


Childcare row becomes more about Coalition and less about the policy itself

6 June 2013 9:00

It is not an enormous surprise that Nick Clegg has confirmed that he will block the government’s plans to relax ratios for childcare providers. The Tories working on the plans… Continue reading

The row continues about who said what on childcare reform. Picture: Getty

Childish childcare bickering continues

13 May 2013 12:24

Last winter, the surest way to get a Lib Dem to ring you back was to mention the words ‘boundary changes’. Better still to write a piece criticising the party’s… Continue reading

Assuming a good childcare offer will bring female voters flooding back to your party is as simplistic as assuming they'll be bought off with free shoes. Picture: Getty

Please, stop trying to solve the Women’s Vote problem by banging on about childcare

10 May 2013 16:23

Flicking through my diary this morning, I came across something I’d scrawled as ‘All the Tory ladies’ without further explanation. It turned out to be one of those drinks events… Continue reading

Liz Truss

The Tories failed to make the case for relaxing childcare ratios: no wonder the policy bombed

9 May 2013 15:29

Two ministers appeared in the Commons today to explain two different reforms. One is at the very start of its legislative life, appearing in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, while the other… Continue reading

Conservatives Consider Family Tax Reform

An Antediluvian Tory Press Causes Problems for David Cameron

20 March 2013 10:52

Today’s papers make dreadful reading for anyone with an interest in modern, reformed conservatism. They are a reminder – if it were needed – that the Tory press is estranged… Continue reading

Liz Truss

Liz Truss: the minister fighting the ‘Where have all the women gone?’ debates

19 March 2013 9:44

The government’s childcare announcement, fronted by the formidable Liz Truss, is another attempt to appeal to working mothers and to spread privilege by removing some of the barriers for women… Continue reading


Coalition negotiations on childcare tax break near conclusion

10 March 2013 12:06

Jo Swinson’s speech to the Lib Dem spring conference highlighted her again as a confident performer who has higher to rise in the party. I was at a fringe session… Continue reading

Liz Truss

Truss’ truncated childcare announcement highlights mid-term review weaknesses

29 January 2013 9:44

Controversial though her proposals to relax quotas for childminders and nursery staff may be, no-one disagrees with Liz Truss’ central mission to reduce the cost of childcare. The opposition know… Continue reading

The government's childcare commission is due to report this autumn. Picture: Getty

Cameron readies childcare package

6 January 2013 13:57

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will launch the coalition’s mid-term review tomorrow. There will be some announcements in it. But I understand that some of the most interesting, new coalition… Continue reading

Cameron and Clegg and the rest of the Quad discussed options for the mid-term review

What will the coalition do next?

11 November 2012 17:53

We are now closer to the 2015 election than the 2010 one. We also expected by now to have the coalition’s mid-term review, the document that will set out its… Continue reading

The government's childcare commission is due to report this autumn. Picture: Getty

The childcare battleground

28 October 2012 14:32

The coalition wants to remove blockages to people returning to work, and one of the most complex problems is the cost of childcare. The Observer covers a report due out… Continue reading


Childcare costs could be election battleground

19 July 2012 16:10

Parents of children under two now pay on average over £5000 a year on childcare, with costs increasing much faster than either earnings or inflation. In response, both the government… Continue reading