The government will not have a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the additional support given to families for childcare in the UK Budget.
Chief Minister Alfred Cannan told the House of Keys on Tuesday this would not be the case as these announcements are incorporated into actions that are ‘some way in the future’ for the Isle of Man.
It came after the Treasury minister pointed out that the recent announcement in the UK ‘doesn’t come into effect for a good 12 months at the earliest’ and the plans won’t come to fruition until 2025, ‘which coincides exactly with the delivery of the childcare strategy’ here.
In the UK Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a number of changes, including extending the offer for 30 free hours of childcare for some families per week to cover younger children.
Mr Cannan was asked if these changes would have an impact on the level of support in the island.
He said: ‘We do need to be conscious of what our competitor jurisdictions are doing, particularly one in such close proximity.
‘We are working hard to try and establish the fundamentals of the right, necessary levels of support needed for young parents.
‘We’re all aware of declining birth rates, not just here but across the water as well, and the financial pressure many young people will find themselves under in the current cost-of-living environment.
‘We are working on these. I expect [other ministers] will be considering this matter very closely in the coming months.’
He added: ‘Accessible, affordable childcare is essential to support existing families and indeed to attract and encourage young families to make the island their home.
‘The amount in cost of available childcare must be factored into our policies and strategies when we’re talking about growing the population on the island.’
Following this, a childcare strategy officers group was established, including offers from DESC, DfE and Treasury to review the actions set out in the strategy.
Business cases from departments will then be taken forward with the senior leadership team.