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Childcare organisations join forces to urge Government to support self-employed parents

Ahead of the expected announcement from the prime minister on the creation of a Childcare Commission, childcare and business organisations have called on the Government to provide greater childcare support for self-employed parents.

The National Day Nurseries Association, StartUp Britain, Women On..., Daycare Trust, Working Families, Childcare Voucher Providers Association, Family and Parenting Institute, and the Federation of Small Businesses all believe parents wanting to start up their own businesses in the UK are not receiving the childcare support they need.

Their campaign launched this morning, calls on the Government to extend childcare vouchers to self-employed parents, who are currently excluded from the scheme.

The campaign is calling on the Government to provide an equal level of support needs to all working parents to help them afford quality childcare, regardless of whether they are employed or self-employed.

Saira Khan, charity ambassador for the Family and Parenting Institute, said: "Millions of working parents face major difficulties in meeting the costs of childcare. The childcare voucher scheme is a key source of support for many working parents and one I believe should be expanded to the self-employed. This would ensure all working parents, regardless of the type of employment they are in, have access to the same level of childcare support."

Mike Cherry, policy chairman from the Federation of Small Businesses, added: "Childcare vouchers currently help employers and employees manage the difficult balance between work and childcare, cutting costs for mothers and fathers and allowing them the flexibility they need. This vital help could be easily extended to self-employed parents."

The Government wants 2012 to be the 'year of enterprise' and to achieve this start up loans have been launched to enable people under 25 to start working for themselves. While leading business and childcare organisations welcome this as a step in the right direction, they also believe that more must be done to encourage entrepreneurship and provide mothers and fathers with the childcare help they need to start up their own business.

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of StartUp Britain, said: "Of the 4.2 million self-employed people in the UK, nearly 1.4 million of them have a child under the age of 15. These parents face the same childcare pressures as all employed parents, but are unable to access the same support".

Entrepreneurship among women is worryingly low - only 26% of self-employed people are women, even though they account for 46% of Britain's economically active population. As this figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1992, there are clearly major barriers, including a lack of childcare support, to women starting up their own businesses.

Business and childcare organisations alike believe the Government could reduce the severity of the childcare barrier to female entrepreneurs, and ensure that start up business owners are not disadvantaged by their ambition.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families said: "Vouchers are simple and available to both mothers and fathers. Many parents are struggling to make work pay due to the high cost of childcare and an extension of the voucher system to self-employed parents would be a step forward".