Sir Keir Starmer slammed for 'uncertainty' as Labour refuses to guarantee free childcare hours

Labour under pressure as Tories slam party for for sowing 'uncertainty' with failure to guarantee childcare policy.

The Labour Party is under pressure to confirm whether or not it will keep the Government's plan for free childcare after the election.

The Conservative Party has promised to introduce 30 free hours of childcare a week to all eligible families from September 2025. As of April 1, parents of two-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week during term time, something which will be extended to working parents of children older than 9 months.

Labour has said it will "not reduce" the number of hours parents are currently entitled to in England if it wins the election, but it has not committed to matching what the Tories have promised in the future.


In a statement yesterday, a spokesperson for the party said: "Labour has been clear: we will not take away entitlements".

This came after Education Secretary Gillian Keegan wrote to Labour's Bridget Phillipson and shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves' demanding clarification on the party's position.

Keegan said: "Parents have told me that they are now uncertain whether they should go back to work, grow their families, or take a promotion, because they don’t know if they will still have this childcare provision.

"Will the Labour party commit to supporting our policy of giving working parents 30 hours free childcare a week from when their child is nine months old to when they start school? If not, how would you make up for the 60,000 fewer people in work that our policy will support?"

But a Labour spokesperson told the Guardian that the current system is a "shambles".

They said: “This is yet another pathetic attempt by the Conservatives to distract attention from the chaos that we now see unfolding in our childcare system on the day the new system of entitlements begins.

“The Conservatives have no plan to deliver the entitlements they have offered this year, let alone from 2025, and they still cannot guarantee parents will receive what the chancellor promised them in the 2023 budget."

The spokesperson added: "Labour has been clear: we will not take away entitlements.

"We have asked Sir David Bell to lead a review into delivering a more effective childcare system, far from the shambles that the Conservatives have created."

A Tory source said: “The fact Labour has no plan is a dividing line here.”

Speaking to GB News, Labour's Nick Thomas-Symonds said: "If Labour is privileged enough to form a government, we will stand by these entitlements.

"We will not take these entitlements away or reduce them. But what we will do is put forward an actual way of accessing them of making them a reality for everybody who is entitled to them."


The opposition has accused the Government of having a "childcare pledge without a plan" after childcare place numbers fell as new entitlements come into effect.

Labour pointed to Ofsted data suggesting the number of childcare places declined by more than 1,000 between March and December 2023, ahead of an anticipated increase in demand for places.

from GB News

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