The Welsh Labour government is presiding over a childcare crisis, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has today claimed.
This follows the publication, on International Women's Day, of the Family and Childcare Trust's annual childcare survey 2014. The survey shows that childcare costs in England are falling in real terms for the first time in twelve years, while in Wales the cost of nursery care for under two's has increased by nearly 12%, for over two's by 13% and the cost of after school clubs by 15%.
It has also revealed that local authorities reporting adequate childcare provision for under twos has gone down, with just one in five Welsh councils saying they have sufficient places available. Not a single council reported having adequate provision for children in rural areas.
In the chamber today, Kirsty Williams called on the First Minister to do more to assist families who are struggling to find and pay for childcare in Wales.
Kirsty Williams said:
"The childcare report published today makes grim reading for many parents in Wales. Yet the First Minister today seemed to indicate he had no further plans to improve the situation.
"While childcare provision in England is vastly improving, here in Wales under Labour, parents are increasingly struggling to either find or pay for childcare.
"The Welsh Government heralds its Flying Start Scheme, yet while it offers some welcome support, the recent evaluation seriously questioned whether it is meeting its key aims in terms of outcomes for parents and children. It is too inflexible and whether a parent can access the scheme depends on their postcode rather than need.
"It is a disgrace that not a single council in Wales is offering adequate provision for children in rural areas. We are going backwards in Wales in terms of the availability and cost of childcare. This simply isn't good enough.
"While the coalition in England is taking positive steps to support parents with childcare, parents in Wales are being let down by Labour's complacency."