If elected in 2015 Labour will expand free childcare for three and four year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week for working parents.
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.
The LibDem/Tory Coalition 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.
As Ed Balls says:
“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 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.
“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 £2.7bn 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 £800m 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.
“For the first time, parents will be able to work part-time without having to worry about the cost of childcare. Making work pay, tackling the cost of living crisis, a radical transformation in the provision of childcare in our country.”
Ed Balls is clear – times will be tough even with a Labour government.
But even in tough times, Labour in office will make a difference.
Our priority will be to tackle the cost of living crisis that mums and dads face and to help make work pay. That’s why, if we win, working parents will get extra help.
That’s a Labour priority. It’s not what the Tories – or the LibDems – are about.