Labour commits to full Tory childcare expansion plan

Labour commits to full Tory childcare expansion plan
Labour commits to full Tory childcare expansion plan

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Labour commits to full Tory childcare expansion plan in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - LONDON — Labour will back the childcare expansion plan being rolled out by the UK government if it wins the next general election.

Shadow education minister Bridget Phillipson has said Labour will not remove any entitlements promised to families "in the future".

The government announced an expansion of free childcare to all children under five in England in last year's budget.

There are three phases of expansion, with the final one in September 2025.

Previously, 30 hours of free childcare was available for working parents with children aged three and four, although that is limited to 15 hours a week if at least one parent earns more than £100,000.

From April 1, working parents with two-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare and that will be extended to nine-months from September this year.

From September 2025, the third phase will see hours of free childcare doubled to 30 hours a week for eligible parents.

Previously, Labour had said the expansion "would not be reduced" if the party takes power in a general election expected to take place in 2024.

The party also commissioned a review of childcare, led by former senior Ofsted figure Sir David Bell, in October.

Phillipson told the BBC's Newsnight program last month that Labour would not commit to the £4bn plan, saying the government risks "crashing the childcare system" due to a lack of places for parents with struggling providers.

That sparked an attack by education secretary Gillian Keegan, who claimed a Labour win could put the scheme "at risk".

In a letter to her Labour counterpart, Keegan wrote: "Parents have told me that they are now uncertain whether they should go back to work, grow their families, or take a promotion, because they don't know if they will still have this childcare provision.

"Will the Labour party commit to supporting our policy of giving working parents 30 hours free childcare a week from when their child is nine months old to when they start school?

"If not, how would you make up for the 60,000 fewer people in work that our policy will support?"

Phillipson responded with a letter of her own, promising a reformed childcare system that will "stand the test of time".

"I am delighted to see the Conservatives have finally woken up to the importance of childcare after 14 years of smashing the system to pieces," she wrote.

"As we have made abundantly clear, Labour will not be removing any entitlements offered to families now or those promised to them in the future.

"Your suggestion to the contrary is an outright lie — and the public will not believe a word of it."

Labour pointed to an analysis of Ofsted data that suggests the number of childcare places fell by more than 1,000 between March and December last year, ahead of the anticipated increase in demand for places.

The party published a dossier, with some parents complaining of high costs and extra fees to pay while others reported 18-month waiting lists at some nurseries.

One nursery warned it could be "forced to go bust" under the government's expanded offer, the dossier claimed.

The government has said it is confident that the childcare sector is ready to deliver the offer and make sure parents have the childcare they need.

Officials have said the number of parents taking up places will initially be in the "thousands", but that is expected to grow by "tens of thousands" over the coming weeks. — BBC

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