PARENTS at Whitnash Primary School have voiced their frustrations about balancing a working life with childcare to Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
The Labour MP, along with Lynette Kelly, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Warwick and Leamington, spent an afternoon with pupils, staff and parents at the school last Thursday.
During a discussion with Ms Cooper, Helen Tupman, chairman of the school’s parent-teacher committee, said: “There is a lot of need for before and after-school clubs. That would help people because it would mean they could work until 5.30pm and have good jobs.
“Six weeks’ holidays during the summer are sometimes a nightmare. It’s a battle between do I stay at home and look after the children or do I go to work - but then I will need to pay for childcare.”
Speaking afterwards, Ms Cooper, who also leads on women’s equality issues for Labour, said: “Rising prices at the supermarket and pressures on childcare are really difficult for families who are working really hard.
“It’s so awful that 2,500 working families in this constituency are going to end up worse off as a result of the Government’s cutbacks.
“Our view has always been that we have got to get the economy growing, but it’s no good having all the jobs in one part of the country.
“We supported the regional development agencies, which the Government scrapped. We would want to see ways of making sure you can support every region.”
Ms Cooper also voiced concerns about the impact cutbacks - in particular on maternity pay - are having on new mums and older women.
She said: “It’s really hard for working mums to even afford to take their maternity leave. That’s a nightmare.
“Women in their 50s and 60s can find themselves really stretched, supporting their children financially and caring for elderly relatives and grandchildren.
“We don’t need to pay out employment benefits or make tax cuts to pension contributions for high earners - we could put that money towards getting jobs for the long-term unemployed.”
Whitnash Primary School headteacher Deborah Fulford was pleased to be able to give parents the chance to speak out, but she added: “We do run a breakfast club and after-school and holiday activities, but it is hard as we depend on the availability of staff and parents.”