In what world is it ok to forcibly sell somebody else’s product and then refuse to give the original owner what it cost for that product? I’m going to use an analogy most parents like me will appreciate: wine!
Imagine the scenario: I walk into the corner shop with my friend after promising to buy her a bottle of wine, I pick up a nice hearty red costing £6.30, take it to the counter and tell the shop worker that I’m only paying £5 for the wine. The store owner comes along to tell me that they can’t sell the wine at this price because they couldn’t continue to run an effective business, meet the cost of wages, overheads etc if they were to do so. I leave the £5 on the counter, take the wine, give it to my friend as the kind gift I originally offered.
Would you expect either the friend or shop owner to be happy with this outcome? No!
Sure, your friend now has a bottle of wine which they’ve not had to pay for but they feel guilty, in some way responsible for the injustice which has been committed against the shop owner. They might want to pay the difference but be unable to. They might want to give the wine back and go without.
While my friend is making her decision, the police have also been called as what I have done is clearly theft. There’s no ambiguity here; I just stole from the corner shop.
But what if it wasn’t wine? What if it was childcare which was promised as a gift? What if you can’t offer to pay the difference or give the ‘gift’ back to the business owner because without it you can’t afford to work or cover your own bills and outgoings? What then?
This is exactly what is happening all over the country. How is it ok?
A product (childcare), has been forcibly taken and handed out to thousands of families across the country as a nice gift, but the providers are not being given the going rate for their service leaving them on average 20% short.
This isn’t a gift, it’s theft!
Like the shop owner, the nurseries should call the police, right? Unfortunately, the perpetrators in this instance, the thieves, the villain, is the government of this country and there is nothing the victims of this theft can do.
The Telegraph has today reported: “One in five providers surveyed by the National Day Nurseries Association, a childcare charity, are not offering the free 30 hours because they say they cannot afford it. And more than half of those that are participating in the scheme are having to increase parents’ costs.”
The Pre-school Learning Alliance conducted a survey of childcare providers in March 2017 which showed similar results: “Less than half of providers [are] currently planning to roll out the offer, and a quarter saying that it is “likely” they will close”.
The situation is set to get worse. The government’s plan to freeze early years funding until 2019-20 will leave us with an even bigger problem on our hands. Childcare providers will feel the squeeze even more as running costs continue to rise with inflation whilst funding does not.
If everyone is happy with the nation’s children being looked after by the least experienced and qualified staff to keep down staffing costs. Happy with younger, even less experienced staff, to avoid paying the so-called ‘living wage’. Happy with buildings and equipment being updated and maintained less regularly. Happy for lower cost materials, foods, nappies to be used for our children during their most important years developmentally, then we have no problem here. I expect for most people, they wouldn’t be happy for any of these things to become commonplace.
Dear friend, don’t offer me a bottle of wine (especially in order to buy my friendship) if you can’t afford to buy a bottle of wine. Or at least humbly admit that you’re unable to follow through on your kind offer, but please don’t steal the wine.
Dear Conservative Government, don’t offer to provide me with 30 hours free childcare (especially to compete with Ed Milliband’s Labour promise and win my vote) if you can’t afford to pay for 30 hours of childcare at the going rate. Or at least humbly admit that you’re unable to follow through on your kind offer, but please don’t steal the childcare.