Clegg Blocks Plan to Let Carers Look After More Children

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg blocked a proposal by his Tory coalition partners aimed at cutting child-care costs for working parents by allowing individual carers to supervise more children.

Child-Care Minister Liz Truss from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party suggested letting adults look after four babies under 24 months of age rather than three, as now, and six two-year-olds rather than the current four. Clegg, who heads the Liberal Democrats, wrote to Truss yesterday saying he is vetoing the plans, in the latest fissure between the two coalition parties.

“The proposals to increase ratios were put out to consultation and were roundly criticized by parents, providers and experts alike,” Clegg will say today, according to extracts of a statement released by his office. “Most importantly, there is no real evidence that increasing ratios will reduce the cost of child care for families. I cannot ask parents to accept such a controversial change with no real guarantee it will save them money. In fact it could cost them more.”

The dispute between the Tories and Liberal Democrats over child-care ratios has been played out in public in recent weeks, with Clegg making his opposition to the policy clear. Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove, Truss’s boss, retaliated by saying last month that Clegg was being forced to “show a bit of leg” to his own party as his leadership was under threat.

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