Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has dropped plans to increase the maximum number of children looked after by individual nursery staff and childminders.
Mr Clegg told childcare representatives that the plans were “dead in the water”, the BBC reports.
The proposals would have increased childcare ratios, allowing nursery staff and childminders to look after a maximum of four rather than three children under two, or six rather than four two year olds. The controversial scheme was due for introduction in the autumn but had raised concerns over costs and quality.
The deputy PM said the proposals did not “stack up”.
“When you are talking about something this important to parents, I think it is imperative to be led by the evidence – which is overwhelmingly against changing the rules on ratios”
“The proposals to increase ratios were put out to consultation and were roundly criticised by parents, providers and experts alike. Most importantly, there is no real evidence that increasing ratios will reduce the cost of childcare for families. The argument that this will help families with their weekly childcare bill simply does not stack up.”
The proposals could have cost parents more money, he claimed.
“I have concluded that, because it will not reduce costs for parents or increase the quality of childcare, the proposed ratio changes for pre-school children cannot proceed.”
Mr Clegg had previously expressed doubts about the plans, telling listeners to his radio phone show last month:
“If you look at a little two year old toddler, suddenly having six in a group rather than four is quite a challenge for the adults so we’ve got to get this right.”
The announcement is reported to have angered Tories who believe Mr Clegg had previously agreed to the plans. One MP told The Times:
“Who does this guy think he is? If he were in business, he would be straight out the door. He agreed this stuff. This is no way to behave.”