Great British Bake Off star calls for universal free childcare

Great British Bake Off presenter Sandi Toksvig has demanded a change in economic mindset, calling for "properly compensated" parental leave and universal free childcare.

Delivering the Adam Smith Lecture in Kirkcaldy yesterday evening, Toksvig, the co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, shone a light on the “grossly undervalued domestic product”.

The lecture has in the past been given by the likes of Kofi Annan, Mervyn King, and Ed Balls. Toksvig was the first woman to do so and was invited to do so the president of Theirworld Sarah Brown and former prime minister Gordon Brown.

"We are calling time on an economy that does not value the work of everybody," said Toksvig who took over as Bake Off presenter when the show controversially moved to Channel 4.

Read more: DEBATE: Should the state provide free childcare for non-working parents?

The concept of the “grossly undervalued domestic product” relates to "unvalued labour" that can allow one member of a family to deliver "so-called productive work".

"The unseen labour which forms the backbone of our society must no longer be dismissed and ignored by economists and policy-makers as ‘economically unproductive’," she said.

This grossly undervalued domestic product is an integral part of the economy, not separate or tangential or even a drain on so-called ‘productive’ work. After all, even the father of economics himself, Adam Smith, lived with his mother for his whole life – an arrangement that left him free to write his great works.

She continued: “As a first step towards an economy that works for our society, there should be universal free childcare and properly compensated shared parental leave. By giving everybody a stake in care, we would begin to value it properly."

Read more: Shared parental leave take-up could be as low as two per cent

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