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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-21-04

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Women's Equality Party makes Liverpool its test ground for universal childcare plan

THE Women's Equality Party candidate for Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor has unveiled ground breaking plans for universal, affordable childcare for all. Tabitha Morton plans for Liverpool City Region to become the first area in the UK to offer affordable childcare for all children from the end of parental leave at 9 months until school age.

"Childcare is more expensive in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.  By making Liverpool City Region the 1st place in the UK to offer universal childcare, I will make it the place that families and businesses want to be. A caring economy will put money in parents' pockets, create thousands of jobs and improve children's life chances." said Morton.

Current Government plans for 30 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds have been criticised for lack of resourcing and forward planning. Using the Metro Mayor's devolved powers and budget, Morton plans to make good quality childcare a reality by investing millions from the region's Strategic Investment Fund, as well as collaborating with Liverpool City Region's 6 local authorities and local businesses. The Women's Equality Party estimates that Morton's plan for universal childcare would deliver 40,000 jobs to the region and ₤1 billion through reduced benefits and increased tax revenues.

"Families in Liverpool are paying as much as ₤204 per week for childcare, even though average pay is lower than the rest of the UK. My plan would see the costs of childcare drop to ₤520 a year, which is less than most parents pay every month. Imagine the difference this could make to our economy."

Nationally, the cost of childcare is on average ₤6,000 per year for 1 child or ₤115 per week. A family with 2 children may need to pay over ₤1,000 per month for childcare and / or after school care. Consequently, there are hundreds of thousands of parents across the UK, mainly women, who simply can not afford to work. Gingerbread estimates that as many as 28,400 single parents in Liverpool City Region are not in work, and a quarter of children in the region are currently living in poverty.

"So far women have been sidelined from the devolution agenda. This is a chance to put them at the Center of it, by helping them back to work and closing the gender pay gap. The devolved budget is intended to unlock the economic potential of our region, and affordable childcare would do just that. More than 600,000 women in the UK who are caring for their children at home would prefer to be in paid employment, either part or full time. This plan will ensure all those in Merseyside who want to work can afford to do so, providing a huge boost to the region's economy. Currently, the northwest loses ₤23.7 billion every year because women are not able to work the hours they want to, at the same rate of pay as men. I want to build an economy and a society that works for everyone, putting Liverpool City Region on the map as a trailblazer. None of the other candidates for Metro Mayor have the vision to see that universal, affordable childcare is the foundation on which happier families, better businesses and a more prosperous economy is built. It can be done. I will do it." said Morton.


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