Labour Party conference: Ed Balls pledges 25 hours' free childcare for working parents
Shadow Chancellor said he would expand childcare by raising extra £800m from Government’s levy on banks
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 23 September 2013
Labour made a pitch for the “strivers’ vote” today by announcing that working parents with children aged three and four will receive 25 hours a week of free childcare if the party wins the 2015 general election.
Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, promised to raise the current 15 hours of free care for families in which both partners work, or when the parent in a single parent family works. Despite warning the Labour conference that the party would have to make spending cuts if it regained power, he said he would expand childcare by raising an extra £800m from the Government’s levy on the banks.
All the parties are courting “hard-working families”, believing they could decide the election. Last week, Nick Clegg announced that the Coalition would extend free school meals to all five-to-seven year olds in state schools in England.
Labour said 440,000 children would benefit from its childcare proposal, which would be worth about £1,500 per child and cost £674m.
Mr Balls told Labour delegates: “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.”
The shadow Chancellor added: “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 £1.6bn less than they said it would. At a time when resources are tight and families are under pressure that cannot be right.”
At the weekend Labour promised to legislate for "wraparound" childcare for primary school children, meaning they could be left at school from 8am to 6pm. Officials said the scheme would be funded from existing schools budgets. In her speech to the conference on Wednesday, Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, will say the party is considering “granny leave” under which parents could transfer part of their parental leave to a working grandparent who looked after their child.
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...