On the face of it, free nursery care sounds like a nice thing for parents. It allows them to have more time to pursue business or pleasure without depleting their pockets. But as the Federation of Small Businesses warns, there may be some problems with the idea.
A little background info for those not living in the UK: the FSB states, "The average nursery receives 3.64 per child per hour from their Local Authority to provide the free places. Nursery owners say that if they could charge it would be an average of 4.70 per hour – a shortfall of 1.06, even though the average cost to the business of providing the session is 4.69 per hour." And the UK intends to extend the entitlement of free nursery care from 12.5 to 15 hours per week in 2010.
So a great many nurseries – which are often themselves small businesses – will begin to lose more money and perhaps be forced to close. This is obviously bad for the nurseries’ owners.
Then there’s the effect on parents and children to consider. If a lot of nurseries shut down, it’ll be more difficult to make sure little ones are taken care of, which will be hard on them, moms, and dads. People might wind up with a lot less time to pursue things not related to childrearing. Or at least, keeping kids around the office could become quite common.
It seems like getting out information on this issue could go a long way towards changing people’s opinions and solving the problem.