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UK Politics

Liberal Democrats to make reducing childcare costs a key objective, says Nick Clegg


Nick Clegg today signals that the Liberal Democrats will make reducing childcare costs the key objective of their remaining two and half years in Government.

In a letter to party supporters the Deputy Prime Minister said the Government was examining measures to reduce the burden of childcare on working mothers adding he was “determined to make sure we do more”.

Any proposals could be included in next year's budget or even as early as the Chancellor's autumn statement next month.

After bruising rows over House of Lords Reform and boundary changes over the summer the Lib Dems are keen to change to focus onto more consumer friendly policies which they can highlight at the next election.

While they have yet to bring forward any specific proposals party sources said reducing childcare costs was now one of their “top priorities” along with the pupil premium and taking those earning less than £10,000 out of income tax.

“This is a signal of clear intent,” said a senior aide to Mr Clegg.

In his emailed letter sent out today Mr Clegg said the issue of childcare costs was an issue that got raised with him “again and again”.

“I know so many mothers who've been really keen to get back to work after their year of maternity leave - until they've calculated the cost of a place at nursery,” he wrote.

“Add in the cost of travel to work and mums can find themselves effectively working full time for just a couple of pounds a week. It's absurd.”

Mr Clegg said while Government spending constraints meant there “isn't much money to go around” he said he was “determined to make sure we do more”. 

“I've got a simple objective in mind: I want every parent who wants to work to be able to - without seeing every penny of their wages disappear in childcare bills. And if we can find the money, we'll try to make that possible.”

The issue of childcare is an area where the Lib Dems are likely to find common cause with their Tory Coalition partners.

Polling for both parties suggests it is a key concern among voters who will decide the next election and the Chancellor George Osborne is said to be sympathetic to finding additional money to reduce costs.

However is likely to be less sympathetic to the Lib Dems claiming credit for any additional Government support.