Labour will expand free childcare for three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week for working parents, Ed Balls announced at the Labour Party Annual Conference today.
This will help families struggling with the cost of living crisis and mean parents who want to work part time will be able to do so without having to worry about the cost of childcare.
David Cameron has cut Labour’s help with childcare costs, with families losing up to £1,500 a year in support through the childcare element of working tax credit.
The extra 10 hours of free childcare would be available to households with 3 and 4 year-old children where all adults are in work – either single-parent households where the single parent is in work, or couple households with both adults in work. The 15-hour early years entitlement will remain universal. The cost of the policy will be met through an increase in the bank levy.
In addition, Labour has already announced this week a Primary Childcare Guarantee for families with school-age children. This will give all parents of primary school children the guarantee of access to childcare through their school from 8am-6pm.
Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor said:
“Childcare is a vital part of our economic infrastructure that, alongside family support and flexible working, should give parents the choice to stay at home with their children when they are very small and to balance work and family as they grow older.
“But for many families high child care costs mean that it doesn’t even add up to go to work. So to make work pay for families, we must act.
“Stephen Twigg set out yesterday how we will guarantee childcare is available for all primary school children from 8am to 6pm. But we need to do more for families with nursery age children too.
“Conference, after the financial crisis, it is right that the banks make a greater contribution. But in the last financial year, the banks paid a staggering £2.7 billion less in overall tax than they did in 2010. Over the last two years the Government’s bank levy has raised £1.6 billion less than they said it would.
“At a time when resources are tight and families are under pressure that cannot be right. So I can announce today the next Labour government will increase the bank levy rate to raise an extra £800 million a year.
“And we will use the money, for families where all parents are in work, to increase free childcare places for 3 and 4 years olds from 15 hours to 25 hours a week.”
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“This is great news for working families across Tameside and Stockport. For the first time, parents will be able to work part-time without having to worry about the cost of childcare. This will help to make work pay, tackle the cost of living crisis and offer a radical transformation in the provision of childcare in our country.”