Ratio Rethink

Britain should adopt Dutch-style childminder agencies, says Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss.

The MP also recommended that it be made possible for both nurseries and children’s centres to apply for academy status, freeing them from local authority control – two eye-catching recommendations to emerge from a report by think tank CentreForum. Specifically, the report recommends that the ratio of children under five to childminders should be raised from 3:1 to 5:1, with the aim of either attracting higher paid staff to the profession or making services more affordable and widely available. It goes on to say that childminders should be able to register at a local agency, which would then be responsible for inspections and training – as is the system in the Netherlands.

With regards academies, nurseries and children’s centres granted such status would receive money directly from the government – as opposed to from the local authority. Such a system, says the report, could lead to a single childcare support payment for parents, reducing bureaucracy.

Elsewhere, the report also suggests that restrictions on informal care be relaxed to allow, for example, parents to pay neighbours or friends for childcare (though those providing the care would be required to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau check). You can read the full report at