The Guernsey Retail Group has added its voice to a growing call for better funding for parental leave benefits.
It follows major reforms announced in the UK to expand the childcare offering on the mainland. All English parents will in the future be entitled to 30 free hours of childcare per week (for children aged nine months to five years old). It’s hoped this will come into force by September 2025.
However, there are currently no plans to pursue any similar offering in Guernsey. Currently, parents in the island are able to claim 15 hours of free pre-school education, per week, for children aged four. It was criticised recently by Deputy Peter Roffey, who told Express “30-hours of free childcare from age nine months is certainly light years away from Guernsey's current offer of 15 hours, just for four-year-olds".
The GRG has now come forward and reiterated the need for “greater funding for childcare”, suggesting it would give more people in Guernsey that ability to get back into the workplace.
“The GRG, which represents retail, believes that increasing the size of the local workforce – and thus more people paying into the tax and social security system – would improve productivity and boost Guernsey’s economy,” the Group said.
It also highlighted a recent presentation by the PwC’s Chief Strategist, Leyla Yildirim, who is encouraging more female participation in the workforce. She said the estimated benefit of getting women back into the workplace would be a 5-6% increase in the GDP.
Head of Retail Development at the GRG, Korinne Le Page, said: “We have calculated that there are currently 200 retail vacancies in Guernsey which we believe could be filled through encouraging and supporting Islanders to either enter or recommence working in the sector.
“The UK’s landmark announcement, which Jersey is also considering, means parents of all children aged nine months to five years would receive free childcare, allowing them to return to the workforce and bring their skills into the community. If the same policy was adopted here, it could make a real difference to many sectors locally, including retail.”
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