A NORTH-EAST MP has highlighted the importance of good quality accessible childcare during a debate on its funding and affordability

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, was speaking at a debate in Westminster Hall after a petition started by campaign group Pregnant then Screwed called for an independent review of childcare funding.

The chairwoman of the Petitions Committee said that “so many economic and social benefits flow” from the childcare sector, including “many important life outcomes - from health to wealth and wellbeing”, as well as childcare being “crucial for working parents”.

Ms McKinnell added that “help with the cost of childcare and early education is one of the best ways Government can support families with young children”.

“Childcare is as necessary for parents to get to work as the roads and rail network” but queried whether the Government “approach it, and fund it, as the vital infrastructure investment that it clearly should be”.

Read more: Early years providers help children settle into childcare

A survey by the Petitions Committee survey earlier this year found that 77 per cent of the parents asked agreed or strongly agreed that cost had prevented them from getting the kind of childcare they really needed.

Following the debate, Ms McKinnell said: “As a working mother, both before and since becoming an MP, I have my own experiences of the heart-wrenching stresses and pressures of getting the right childcare, and the need for support with its enormous costs.

“Since 2008, the cost of childcare has risen three time faster than earnings. Childcare is as necessary for parents to get to work as the roads and rail network.

"The Government needs to approach and fund childcare as the vital infrastructure investment that it clearly should be.

“I put to ministers that an independent review would be the perfect opportunity to really think through what we want our childcare and early years sector to be, and how we should fund it.

“It is disappointing that the Government have dismissed the idea of a review so easily. With costs spiralling for parents and providers, this is an issue that is not going to go away."

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