Elizabeth Truss is an Under-Secretary at the Department of Education and the MP for South West Norfolk. Follow Liz on Twitter.
Over Christmas on the Today programme, Warren Buffet, the stock market aficionado, claimed that working mothers would help rescue the US economy. He said: “Fifty per cent of the talent in the country, we’ve pushed off in the corner for almost 200 years. Now that we’re starting to use 100 per cent of our talent, it makes me very optimistic. Dual-earner families are now the norm in leading developed countries, according to the OECD. Changing technology, increases in returns to skills and the much greater education of women has meant that mothers are now an integral part of a country’s economic success.
Other countries are learning these lessons. Ten years ago, the German Government decided it could no longer afford the economic cost of half-day schools, as it prevented parents working a full day. Now children in Berlin are entitled to be cared for at their primary school until 6pm for a small parental contribution. Just before Christmas Tony Abbott, the leader of the Australian Liberal Party, told me that there is a similar issue in Australia, where childcare costs are almost as astronomic as they are in Britain.