Today, many families are struggling with the cost of childcare. Working people have seen their wages fall by £1,600 under David Cameron, but for families with children it’s even harder – their incomes have been hit twice as hard as the average.
Under the Tories, there are over 40,000 fewer childcare places and 720 fewer Sure Start children’s centres, and many of those that remain have cut their hours and their services. The cost of a nursery place has risen by 33 per cent – part-time childcare for a family with two children now costs more than the average mortgage. Seven out of ten stay-at-home mums say that the cost of childcare has put them off looking for a job.
Families need more help with childcare: it’s good for families and good for the economy. But it's clear the Tories don’t recognise the pressures that families face today.
Labour has a better plan for working families:
- We will extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three and four-year-olds paid for by an increase in the bank levy. This will benefit nearly half a million three and four-year-olds and their families and help parents overcome the barriers to getting back to work or working more hours.
- We will introduce a primary childcare guarantee – a legal guarantee that parents of primary-aged children can access childcare from 8am to 6pm through their local school, helping families tackle the logistical nightmare that before- and after-school childcare can become.
- We will double paid paternity leave for fathers from two to four weeks so they can spend time with their children, helping more than 400,000 families a year, and raise paternity pay by more than £100 a week to at least £260 a week – the equivalent of the minimum wage – so that working Dads can afford to take time off.
- We will save Sure Start and tackle the shortage of childcare places by doubling the number available at Sure Start centres – at least 50,000 more places – and ensure Children's Centres are properly used rather than being mothballed.