Socialist Worker

Childcare: Dutch and Danish offer different models

Issue No. 2305

How does childcare in Britain compare to that in the rest of Europe? The Tories claim to be following the example of the Netherlands, which uses a network of “host agencies” to run its childcare system.

But this set-up has come under fire from experts. “We do not believe that the model implemented in the Netherlands since 2005 has worked—and indeed many of the changes have been reversed,” says Anand Shukla from the Daycare Trust.

“The Dutch reforms led to lower quality childcare; did not increase the number of high quality childminders in the profession, as the increase in numbers was largely due to grandparents registering as childminders; did not have a noticeable impact on maternal employment; and saw bureaucracy increase, due to the introduction of a layer of agencies.”

In Denmark the system is different. The country has a 50 percent tax rate on the richest earners. Some of this money is put into a heavily subsidised and publicly run childcare system. Families pay no more than a quarter of the cost of day care.

Most women with children work in Denmark. The country is ranked fifth for female employment among the 34 richer countries in the OECD. Britain in comparison ranks 15th—and women’s economic participation has flatlined.

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