Frontier Economics today published a report on its analysis of childcare policy options in Wales for the Welsh government. The research was carried out in collaboration with the Public Policy Institute for Wales, hosted by Cardiff University. The analysis concludes that increasing free childcare for three- and four-year olds is unlikely to affect employment or poverty levels in Wales.
Frontier’s study examines the potential impacts of extending families’ entitlement to free childcare for pre-school children. The work involved using large-scale household survey data for England and Wales, first to estimate how mothers’ work decisions respond to changes in childcare costs and then to predict the likely impact of additional free hours of childcare for three and four year olds in Wales on work choices and incomes.
Gillian Paull of Frontier, one of the co-authors of the report, said: “If the aim is to encourage women to return to work, or to help more disadvantaged families with the costs of childcare, our analysis suggests that extending free childcare for three- to four-year-olds from 10 hours to 30 hours will not achieve this to any significant degree.”
Dan Bristow, Deputy Director of PPIW said: “These findings make for uncomfortable reading for policy makers in Wales. Not only would extending the offer of free childcare for three to four year olds have no significant impact; the Welsh Government spending would displace UK Government spending, saving the UK Treasury millions of pounds a year.”
Frontier regularly advises public sector bodies on issues relating to early years education and development.
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