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Labour pledges to extend 30-hours childcare offer
OnMay 16, 2017
Party says it will spend £5bn each year making 30-hours offer universal
The Labour party has pledged to extend the current 30-hours childcare offer if it wins the general election on 8 June.
A party spokesperson confirmed today that, under a Labour government, all children aged three and four would be entitled to 30-hours of funded childcare a week, not just those from working families. The party has also pledged to extend the offer to all two-year-olds.
Currently, all three and four year olds are entitled to 15-hours of funded childcare each week, while some working families will be able to claim a further 15-hours from September onwards. The current system also offers 15-hours childcare to two year olds from poorer backgrounds, based on their family’s income. Labour estimates that under their manifesto plans an additional 1.3 million children in Britain would be entitled to the offer, compared to the Conservative’s existing offer.
A Labour party spokesperson confirmed to Under 5: “We will extend current commitments on free hours to all parents, not just those in work, benefitting 626,739 additional three and four year olds on top of the 390,000 who qualify currently.”
The announcement comes after the Labour party’s manifesto was leaked last week. The leaked document pledged to “overhaul” the current childcare system and make “significant” capital investment in the early years to increase the number of available spaces.
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Alliance, welcomed the manifesto’s focus on early education, but questioned how the scheme would be funded. He said: “It is positive to see the importance of quality early years care and education recognised in Labour’s manifesto. That said, experience has taught us to be sceptical of claims of fully-funded ‘free childcare’ schemes.”
Neil added: “If Labour’s policy’ costings are based on existing early years funding rates, which have long been insufficient, then this pledge will inevitably be underfunded.”
Earlier this year, a survey commissioned by the Alliance found that just 44% of providers are planning to offer the 30-hours, compared to 95% who offer the 15-hours. Six out of 10 providers asked said that the government’s funding rate did not cover their delivery costs.