Labour pledges enhanced 30-hour childcare scheme

In his keynote speech to Labour conference, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to announce a pledge to extend the government’s 30 hours of free childcare programme to the parents of all two-, three- and four-year-olds.

The Labour leader, seeking to direct Labour’s policies closer to providing universal support for all families with young children, will say that the expanded scheme would benefit more than a million children and tackle the ‘patchy’ offer currently being provided.

The party is also due to announce that, under their plans, families on the lowest incomes would also be eligible for additional subsidised hours on top of the 30 hours, and to increase average early years funding rates to help the many childcare providers that are struggling and facing closure.

Corbyn is expected to say: “Opportunity matters most in the earliest years of life. It is a crucial time to open up children’s life chances. Driving up standards of childcare will make that vital difference for millions of our children.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “The direction of these proposals is certainly the right one – additional support for parents, a greater emphasis on supporting and valuing the early years workforce, and a focus on raising and maintaining quality across the sector.

“But, as always, the devil is in the detail and we would need to see a lot more detail on how these proposals have been individually costed to feel reassured that this plan is indeed sustainable – or even possible – in the long term.”

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