Low pay, the pressures of work, and caring for children and elderly relatives have put families under increasing pressure.
Under the Conservatives, the problem is getting worse. Too many parents are struggling to cope as the cost of childcare soars and the availability of places falls. David Cameron has broken his promise on Sure Start, with 720 fewer children's centres across the country since 2010. The Government has allowed Sure Start centres to close or effectively be mothballed. This is disastrous for local communities at a time when childcare places are falling even though demand is greater than ever.
Labour will support families’ living standards and ensure that we deliver the world-class health and education services that families rely on. And we will go further to support families, to help families with childcare and support families who have a new baby.
We will help families with childcare
- We will extend free childcare for working parents of three- and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week.
- We will introduce a legal guarantee for parents of access to wraparound childcare from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through their local primary school.
- We will underpin the guarantee of wraparound childcare with a new not-for-profit National Primary Childcare Service, matching primary schools with talented volunteers to increase the delivery of affordable and high quality extracurricular activities before and after school.
- We will require Sure Start centres to offer childcare, opening up an extra 50,000 childcare places to families. And by ensuring that our children’s centres are used, we will help them to fulfil their role as hubs for family services in the community.
We will support families with a new baby
- For the first time, all women in labour will be guaranteed personalised one-to-one care from a midwife. This means a midwife will be able to give full commitment to the woman all the time she is in labour.
- We will double paid paternity leave, extending its length from two to four weeks and ensuring more families can take up their entitlement by increasing the level of paternity pay from £140 to more than £260 a week.
Speaking to Louise about Labour's childcare policy, Laura and Matthew (photo above), a young couple from Ingleby Barwick say:
Childcare is so expensive that it could cost more for Laura to go to work and find someone to look after our son – that’s ridiculous! We think Labour’s plan to bring in more free childcare will really help parents like us.”
Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary with me, talking to an enthusiastic Thornaby mum about Labour’s childcare pledge.