Hard-working parents of three and four-year-olds will receive 25 hours per week of free childcare worth £1,500 if Labour wins the 2015 general election, MP Lucy Powell has pledged.
Childcare for a three or four-year-old costs an average of £103.96 per week based on this year’s Daycare Trust Survey.
Spiralling childcare costs has caused the number of stay at home parents to fall 21% from 2.8million in 1993 to 2.2million today, according to Netmums.
Ms Powell said: “Parents face a cost of living crisis of David Cameron’s own making and childcare is a key pressure on family budgets. I know from talking to parents in Manchester how difficult they find it to make ends meet.
“Labour would take action to make childcare more affordable by extending the free childcare available to three and four-year-olds with parents in work from 15 hours to 25 hours per week.
“Parents face a triple whammy with prices rising 6% a year, places plummeting and cuts to tax credit support of up to £1500 for some families.”
In an era where politicians are accused of not understanding the lives of ordinary people, Powell spoke about combining a busy career with family life.
She added: “Like any working mum or dad I try and pack as much into the time I have whether that’s at work where I make every minute count or home spending quality time with my children.
“I think this is the experience of most mums and dads across the country managing busy work and family life.”
In her new role as shadow minister for childcare, she believes that the House of Parliament’s workplace nurseries can help tackle what she describes as a ‘childcare crisis’.
“We’re extremely lucky in the House of Commons after years of campaigning to have a nursery run by the London Early Years Foundation – while it is expensive it is an extremely good nursery.
“I think the emotional wrench is less for working mums and dads when you know your children are nearby and that’s why I think there is a place for workplace nurseries in tackling the childcare crisis.”
When questioned about Labour’s broad vision for childcare in the UK, she said accessible childcare would help reverse economic inequalities between genders and children.
She said that it should still be seen as a scandal that there are such low levels of maternal employment and that the pay and status gap for women is such a big one.
Ms Powell said: “Labour’s mission is to close these gaps and our mission will not be complete until we’ve eradicated them. These drivers offer the frame through which I will develop our strategies and policies over the coming years.”
Image courtesy of Joe Sheffer via Flickr, with thanks.