Not content with raising the cost of living through a GST increase, the Nats are clearly planning another blow to young families. On RNZ this morning:
The Finance Minister says the Government is moving to contain the cost of early childhood education, with details to be announced in the Budget.
The National Party pledged before the 2008 election that parents would not pay any more for childcare than they did under Labour’s 20 free hours policy.
But Finance Minister Bill English says the cost of early childhood education has trebled in the past six years*. He says the Government is moving to balance the support parents receive with the need to contain future costs. When asked whether he could rule out fee increases for parents, as a result of any changes to the 20 hours policy, Mr English said he did not want to jump to conclusions that would prejudge next month’s Budget.
The Labour Party says it is clear the Government is looking to cut costs in early childhood education, which may include the 20 hours childcare policy. Labour’s early education spokesperson, Sue Moroney, says many families rely heavily on the subsidy.
Early childhood education lays a foundation for future educational success. According to the Ministry of Education:
Research shows that children who are involved in quality early childhood education (ECE) benefit in many ways, and that these benefits also extend to their family/whÄnau and the wider community.
Only stupid, short term thinkers would decrease the quality of or access to such education. But Bill is clearly preparing the ground for the axing of 20 hours free. “Moving to balance the support parents receive with the need to contain future costs” — spare us the double talk please. Tell parents what to expect right now, so that they can start making plans.
[* Trebled in six years? Someone needs to get Bill’s figures on this asap.]