Childcare facilities and assistance for working parents are widely advocated on demographic, economic, political and socio‐psychological grounds – which are all scrutinised. Yet the provision in Britain, as documented in this article, remains unsystematic, uneven and ill‐adapted to the criteria on which it is advocated. The relationship is examined between the provision in the not‐for‐profit sector with that in the private sector, financed by employees and/or employers. Recent political pronouncements and manifestos on the topic are critically compared. Future likely patterns of childcare provision in Britain are assessed, in particular the potential industrial concentration among commercial childcare providers, the questions of standards and financing, and international comparisons. The concluding theme is the implications for human resource management policy makers of childcare as an employee benefit in changing labour markets.
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