Labour will give 30 hours free childcare a week to 2,016 2-4 year olds in North Dorset.
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 years olds, and over 500,000 two years 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;
Pat Osborne, Labour’s Candidate in North Dorset, 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.
“I think about how Labour’s free childcare could improve things for parents in North Dorset like me and my partner. The stress and money troubles that can been avoided 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’s 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”
Notes to Editors
- The Liberal Democrats have a reputation for making empty policy offerings – but if this policy were indeed applied, it would only benefit working parents, meaning hundreds of thousands of children would be left out by the Lib Dems.
- Similarly, the next Labour government will fund childcare providers at a higher rates. So there will be more qualified staff and more staff for each children
- Many parents won’t feel comfortable leaving a 9-month old baby in childcare, especially if providers are under-funded. That’s why Labour, unlike the Lib Dems, has prioritised extending statutory maternity leave to a year and investing in Sure Start.
- Unlike the other parties, Labour’s free childcare for all 2-4 year olds would be part of wider reforms for real change: free school meals for all primary school children, investing in our schools, and fully reversing Tory and Lib Dem cuts to give every school the funding it needs.
Labour’s Early Years offer:
- Labour will reverse cuts to Sure Start and fund a new generation of Sure Start centres – Sure Start Plus – which will provide comprehensive support to new parents in every community in the country.
- £974m real terms cut from SureStart spending 2010/11 – 2017-18 (Data table 2.7 https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/14369)
- Labour will invest £4.5 billion to radically reform childcare provision, making high-quality early years education available to all, whatever their income;
- Labour’s plans will see some families saving thousands of pounds a year, in particular those that are not eligible for or using other supports to meet the cost of childcare.
An analysis by the House of Commons Library found that:
- 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
- The cost of childcare has risen sharply since 2010, increasing twice as fast as real wages, a Labour analysis of data produced by the independent Family and Childcare Trust shows.
- In 2019 the cost of childcare was the equivalent of a fifth of weekly earnings.
- The increasing cost of childcare could leave parents, and in particular mothers, unable to return to work after having children, and would leave those children unable to access the high-quality early years education that can be so important to their development.
- The rise in costs has been particularly severe in some regions of the country, in particular where wage growth has been slower. In particular, the cost of childcare has risen:
o 3.2 times as fast as wages in the West Midlands
o 2.5 times as fast as wages in the East Midlands
o 2.9 times as fast as wages in the South West.
- Labour analysis shows that the cost of childcare has increased twice as fast as wages in England between 2010 and 2019.
Sources: For wage data see Office for National Statistics, EARN05: Gross weekly earnings of full-time employees by region (October – December 2018)
For 2010 childcare costs, see Daycare Trust, Childcare costs survey 2010
For 2019 childcare costs, see Coram Family and Childcare, Childcare Survey 2019
- Assuming 90% of uptake for free childcare for 3-4 year olds approximately 883,576 children will benefit the final year of the next Parliament.
- Assumed 80% of uptake for free childcare for 2 year olds approximately 532,340 children will benefit in the final year of the next Parliament.
For the number of 3- 4 year olds in England and in each region currently benefiting from 30 hours see Department for Education, Education provision: children under 5 years of age, January 2019, Table 3LA
The number of children benefiting under Labour’s policy are based on the number of 3-4 year olds and 2 year olds in England in 2024, the final year of the next Parliament. This has been found using Nomis, a tool from the Office for National Statistics (relevant fields in the data were to calculate the number of 2, 3, and 4 year olds, in each region and in England, in 2024)
- As well as introducing 30 hours of free childcare a week for all 2, 3 and 4 year olds, we will invest in additional hours at subsidised rates staggered with incomes. The very highest earners pay no more than £4 an hour for childcare, and those on the lowest incomes pay nothing;
- We will transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, in order to:
o Improve child development, close the attainment gap, and improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged children;
o Improve the pay and skills levels of childcare workers, who are overwhelmingly female and low paid
- Labour will end the fragmentation of the current system, transitioning to a single, supply-side funding model that will be simpler and more sustainable for both parents and providers.
- We will recruit nearly 150,000 additional early years staff, including Special Educational Needs Coordinators, and introduce a national pay scale, driving up pay for the overwhelmingly female workforce.
The Tories are failing the most disadvantaged children
- The attainment gap has stopped closing in the early years. EPI Annual Report.
- For the most persistently disadvantaged pupils the gap has widened at secondary level. This means that these pupils – the very worst-off – are almost two years (22.6 months) behind all other pupils by the time they finish their GCSEs. (EPI Annual Report)
- Over recent years, there has been a dramatic slowing down in the closure of the disadvantage gap to the extent that the five year rolling average now suggests that it would take 560 years to close the gap. However, the most recent data shows an increase in the gap in 2018 suggesting there is a real risk that we could be at a turning point and that we could soon enter a period where the gap starts to widen. (EPI Annual Report)
- 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.House of Commons Education Select Committee, Tackling disadvantage in the early years, 2019
- 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 schoolHouse of Commons Education Select Committee, Tackling disadvantage in the early years, 2019
The Conservatives’ offer
- Currently, all three and four year-olds, as well as around 40% of two year-olds, have an entitlement to 15 hours of free early education per week. The Conservatives have legislated to extend this to 30 hours for working parents of three and four year-olds.
- However, many families are not accessing their existing entitlements. The existing system is difficult to navigate and many providers refuse to accept children claiming their free hours.
- Most local authorities have reported that there are not enough childcare places for two year olds that are entitled to free childcare, for afterschool care or for disabled children.
“The majority of local authorities in England report that there is not enough care available in their area for two year olds entitled to free childcare, for after-school care, for disabled children, or for children whose parents work non-typical hours such as shift workers.” [Annual Childcare Survey 2017, Family and Childcare Trust, March 2017, p.4]
- Early years education has a major impact on child development. Centre-based care of children between the ages of 18 and 35 months is associated with better language skills (NICHD and ECCRN and mathematics), [Sammons et al] and leads to academic benefits at primary school. [Sylva et al 2004] These benefits were found to be most pronounced for children from lower income families. [Love et al 2003] However, for the educational benefits to be felt, the childcare needs to be of a high quality.
- The Women in Business Council was established by government in 2012 to report on optimising women’s contribution to economic growth. Their report, “Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth” was published in June 2013 and found that equalising labour force participation rates of men and women could add 10% to UK GDP by 2013. A boost to the economy of this size implies a full universal childcare scheme would be close to self-financing in the longer term.
- Research by children’s charity 4Children found that 79.4 per cent of parents said that being unable to use their local Children’s Centre would make life harder for them and their families, and 34.4 per cent said it would make a “big difference” and that life would become “a lot more difficult.” [Source: Children’s Centre Census 2015, 4Children, October 2015,]