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Cameron floats childcare compromise

David Cameron has signalled he is ready to compromise to end the coalition stand-off over flagship childcare reforms.

The Prime Minister said he believed the Government would "find a way forward" despite Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg speaking out against changes to staffing ratios.

Proposals announced by Tory Education Minister Liz Truss were due to see rules on nurseries and childminders eased from September.

Each member of staff would be able to look after four children aged under one rather than three. The ratio for two-year-olds would rise from four to six per adult.

Limits for over-threes are to remain at eight or 13 children per adult, depending on whether a qualified graduate is present. However, childcare experts raised concerns about the move, and earlier this month Mr Clegg said he was not persuaded the changes were right.

The intervention cast doubt on the fate of the whole package of childcare reforms, which took months of coalition wrangling to assemble and includes a new system of tax breaks worth £1,200 for working parents.

Speaking to reporters on his trip to the US, Mr Cameron said creating "quality affordable childcare" was a "very important priority for the Government".

"I think the proposals that we put forward about both qualifications and ratios had a lot of merit," he said.

"Clearly there now needs to be a discussion in the Coalition about how best to go forward and respond to the consultation. But I'm confident, as with all these things, we will find a way forward.

"There's no point getting too frustrated about these things. We'll find a way forward that I hope will be good for people who want affordable childcare, which is a very, very major priority for people." 10)


From Belfast Telegraph