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Voters call on next government to prioritise early years as much primary school

New research from the Early Education and Childcare Coalition (EECC) and More in Common has found that two thirds (68%) of voters want the next government to prioritise early education and childcare as much as primary school. 

In the Coalition’s latest Pulse check report, which looks at voters’ attitudes to early education and childcare, the same proportion also said that more early years funding would benefit the country in the long-term, with a further 44% stating that more sector investment would save the country money in the long-term  

Respondents also raised concerns about the availability of early years places, with eight in ten (81%) parents of children under five are concerned about the availability of places. In addition, three-quarters (77%) of parents of children with SEND are concerned about the availability of places, compared to 59% of all parents.  

In total, 78% of Black voters and 64% of Asian voters are concerned about the availability of places compared to 52% of White voters. 

Overall, more than seven in ten (73%) of all voters support increasing sector funding to enable providers offer more places. An overwhelming majority (80%) said children should be able to access early education and childcare regardless of where they live.  

Commenting, Sarah Ronan, director of the EECC, said:  

“Voters know that early education and childcare is good for all of us and they want to see policies that recognise that. Unfortunately, despite the clear benefits to children’s learning and parents’ ability to work, there is a real inequality in how families can access the provision they need with far too many living in ‘childcare deserts’ where availability of places is low. We want to see all political parties guarantee that every child can access a place if they need it but that starts with fair and sustainable funding for providers so they can deliver the high-quality education and childcare that will support children to develop and thrive and parents to work.” 

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years 91ɫƵ, said: 

“Today’s research makes one thing clear: regardless of who the next government is, early education and childcare must be a key part of their policy priorities.   

“While it is positive to see that most voters want to see all political parties commit to early education, the fact that 81% of parents under five are concerned about the availability of places shows not just the importance of including the sector in short and long-term plans, but the need for any commitments to work in practice – both for early years providers and families alike.  At the very least, this must mean a comprehensive workforce strategy and funding which reflects the cost of delivering high-quality early education and care.  

"With less than a month until the general election, we urge all political parties to value the importance of the early years both in words and actions. After all, given the litany of challenges facing the sector at the moment, it can ill-afford to be pushed to the sidelines.”