Aiming to get parents back to work and to help children achieve, the Labour Party has promised to spend £1 billion on opening 1000 new early years centres in England if it forms the next Government.

According to a report from the Sutton Trust last year, up to 1000 Sure Start centres have closed in the past decade, with funding pressures being blamed.

Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn said that he also wants to radically expand free childcare to 30 hours a week for all two- to four-year-olds.

He claimed that childcare costs have risen twice as fast as wages since the Conservatives came to power and pointed to analysis by the House of Commons Library, commissioned by Labour, which found that his plans for free childcare will deliver a saving of over £5000 a year for the average parent of a two-year-old not currently eligible for childcare support.

The analysis also showed that parents with children aged two to four, who are currently only eligible for 15 hours free childcare, would save over £2500 a year.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have issued their own appeal to working parents with their Leader, Jo Swinson, promising to provide free childcare from a child being, potentially, nine months old until they start school.

“Today’s high cost of childcare means that too many parents are unable to return to work without risking real financial hardship,” she said. “With the average cost of 25 hours nursery care for a child under two running to more than £6500 per year, many parents are effectively excluded from work due to the burden of childcare costs.”

Specifically, the Liberal Democrat plan is to provide free, high-quality childcare for every child aged two to four, for 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. The offer would be extended to children aged between nine and 24 months where their parents are in work.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

There is no doubting that childcare costs can be expensive, therefore the promise of free childcare should be music to the ears of parents across the UK.

Extending the availability of subsidised childcare could also encourage a greater number of new parents to return to work, who may have previously remained at home to care for their children.

There is the potential that these proposals could help reduce the gender pay gap by presenting women, who traditionally handle the majority of the childcare commitments, with a greater opportunity to return to the workplace and carry on with their career progression.

Last reviewed 13 November 2019