Add 3 more year groups to the state education system: Nursery 1 (1-2yrs), Nursery 2 (2-3yrs), and Nursery 3 (3-4yrs). School hours (9-3:30) would be free, and school meals would be provided for those eligible. Parents would just pay for hours needed outside of the 9-3:30 day, with the hourly rate being proportional to their earnings to keep it fair. Not everyone would want to put their children into nursery this early, so this additional care should be non-mandatory, but available to all parents who want to benefit from it. Single parents would then be able to focus more time on their careers, to increase income to support their families while also increasing tax income to the government to offset the cost of providing this free care. Children in low socio-economic households would also benefit from better nutrition and more one to one time. It would also result in many children starting to read and write earlier than they otherwise would have done. This would put children on a more level playing field by the time they reach primary school. By supporting parents who want or need to get back to work sooner, and supporting the children of those parents to give them the best possible start in life, this would have a double pronged approach to boosting the prospects of people from lower income families, while boosting the economy at the same time.
Alongside this, employers could also be incentivised through the tax system to provision private day care for the children of their staff and neighbouring businesses to minimise the increased burden on the state. Larger employers could rent out surplus office space within their buildings (as a result of the inevitable post-pandemic shift to increased home working) to child care providers, allowing those companies to incorporate creche facilities into their employee benefits packages. This would be win win for employers keen to encourage staff to come into the office at least some of the time, and for staff looking for convenient child care support to be able to work to their full potential. It would promote closer bonds between staff that make friends through their children and help to promote a positive family friendly culture. As flexible working will inevitably be on the rise post-lockdown, promoting this use of vacant office space would also help to encourage companies to not downsize to smaller locations, helping to bolster the commercial real estate sector