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Childcare Responsibilities

Volume 629: debated on Thursday 12 October 2017

In relation to progress on childcare, we are taking unprecedented steps to support parents with caring responsibilities, whether by providing tax-free childcare or doubling the provision of free childcare from 15 to 30 hours, and nearly 80% of parents in the early-delivery areas with 30 hours reported that the extended hours had given them more flexibility in their work choices. Of course, the right to request flexible working is also helping parents to balance work and care between them in a way that works for them and their families.

Does the Minister agree that it is important that the message goes out that mothers and fathers who choose to stay at home full time to care for their children, and who often care for those in their wider families and communities, are just as valued and appreciated for their contribution to society as those who of us who go out to work?

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. The approach in our Government policy agenda has been to give choice and to enable families to make the choices that are right for them. For many people, that will involve staying at home, and that is a choice that we also want to support. We have taken steps to equalise the choice for those parents who want to stay in the workplace and continue with careers, so that they can do so while also bringing up a family.

Caring for a terminally ill child can be absolutely devastating for parents. Currently, however, parents in this circumstance are not able to access disability living allowance mobility payments when the child is under three, despite having to carry about often very bulky medical equipment. Will the Government overcome this anomaly and support parents in this absolutely devastating situation?

Our hearts go out to any parent in what is, as the hon. Lady says, a devastating situation. We have a Minister from the Department for Work and Pensions here today, who I know will take note of what she said. More broadly, we are spending nearly £3.6 billion on carer’s allowance every year. However, I think that we all recognise the responsibility we have, as a Government and a community, to support those who are carrying out such vital roles.