The radical expansion of free childcare to all exceeds the Lib Dems’ offer, and will save families thousands of pounds a year. It will be accompanied by opening a Sure Start centre in every community to “unlock the potential of all our children”.
On Saturday (9 November) Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner also outlined Labour’s £1 billion investment to reverse the Conservatives’ cuts to Sure Start and open 1,000 new centres in England.
Since the Conservatives entered government, 1,000 Sure Start centres have been closed.
Labour’s plans to radically expand free childcare to 30 hours a week for all 2-4 year olds, which will save families thousands of pounds a year.
New analysis by the House of Commons Library, commissioned by Labour, found that under the expansion of free childcare that Labour will deliver:
- the average parent of a two-year-old not currently eligible for childcare support would save over £5,000 a year
- parents with children aged 2-4 who are currently only eligible for 15 hours, would save over £2,500 a year
Labour’s expansion of 30 hours of free childcare will benefit over 880,000 3 and 4 year olds, and over 500,000 two year olds by the end of the Parliament.
This comes as new analysis shows childcare costs have risen twice as fast as wages under the Tories.
Evidence suggests that early years education for children below the age of four has a positive impact on the life chances of disadvantaged children, but overall disadvantaged children spend significantly less time in pre-school than children from more affluent backgrounds.
The attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged counterparts is already evident when children begin school aged 5, with a gap between them the equivalent of 4.3 months of learning. This gap more than doubles to 9.5 months at the end of primary school, and then more than doubles again to 19.3 months at the end of secondary school
Labour will unlock the potential of all our children by:
– Rolling out 30 hours of free childcare a week for all 2-4 year olds to give all our children the best possible start in life, saving families thousands of pounds a year;
– Opening 1,000 new Sure Start centres;
– Providing free school meals for all primary school children to end the stigma and ensure no child goes hungry at school;
– Building a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council housing programme in a generation;
– Investing in our schools, fully reversing Tory cuts to give every school the funding it needs;
– Ending the public sector pay cap and introducing a Real Living Wage of at least £10 an hour to boost household income;
– Ending the benefit freeze, the two child limit and scrapping Universal Credit which is pushing families into poverty;
Faisal Rashid, Labour’s Candidate in Warrington South, said:
“This is the real change that the next Labour government is going to bring to people’s lives.
“Just imagine how much easier this will make life and work for the parents of young families in Warrington South.
“I think about how Labour’s free childcare would have improved things for me and my partner when our kids were little. The stress and money troubles that could have been avoided with saving £5,000 a year and knowing the kids are being looked after.
“You can’t trust the Tories and the Lib Dems with childcare – they cut more than a thousand Sure Start centres across the country and told us it’s impossible for the state to make people’s lives better by helping with childcare.
“We’re ending that. Labour are going to deliver real change.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
“The Conservatives are failing a whole generation of children. Labour will deliver the real change Britain needs.
“Parents are struggling to afford the childcare support they need, while many children are going hungry and growing up homeless.
“Labour will open a Sure Start centre in every community and fund 30 hours’ free childcare for all two to four year olds to unlock the potential of every child.”
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“Investment in the early years can transform the lives of children and their families across this country, just as the last Labour government transformed mine.
“The Tories have slashed funding for Sure Start leading to a loss of 1,000 centres, while their so-called free childcare offer locks out those families most in need of support.
“Labour will make high-quality early years education and access to Sure Start Plus a right for all families, in a country for the many, not the few.”