Navin Shah AM: Thank you, Chair. I would like to explore further the issue about the childcare aspects. One of the largest barriers to participation in London’s labour market for women is the lack of flexible and affordable childcare. I would certainly say that if you would, please, look into this as one of the priority issues.
Looking at the GLA’s history with regards to childcare, before 2008 - I think it was in 2003 - there was a Childcare Strategy that was launched at the time, followed by about £33 million in investment planned over a three-year period, to look at innovative ways of delivering childcare. Unfortunately, it was stopped around 2008.
Also, in 2012, the Health and Public Services Committee looked at a piece of work on this particular issue, which I would recommend you look at. Unfortunately, some of those recommendations, which were directly addressed to the Mayor, were not taken on board.
The situation now is that the Mayor has recently said that he is going to put forward a paper this summer to outline proposals for additional work that the GLA will be undertaking in relation to childcare provision. May I suggest that the LEP feeds your experience about what can be done into this paper? It is important that the LEP gets involved. There are certain aspects that I would like you to consider when you feed into the Mayor’s work this summer. Those are issues like flexibility of provision, affordability and whether the supply of childcare services is sufficient in London. Also, assessing the various merits or demerits of devolving funding and policy responsibilities to City Hall, whether the funding levels are adequate given the highest costs of running childcare services are in London and whether the tax and social security system is operating sufficiently for families in need.
There is a lot of work to be done here. Unfortunately, we are not doing that in City Hall. I am pleased that there is a move towards progressing this and certainly I would like to have your commitment this morning to say that, yes, you are prepared to look at it and it is something that you will feed into the Mayor’s work.