Labour's childcare plans could help thousands of mothers back to work

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New analysis shows that Labour's plans to extend free childcare to 25 hours a week could help 135,000 more mothers return to work.


Labour's plans could support more than 100,000 working mothers back into work

Labour has pledged to increase the number of funded hours for working parents of three- and four-year-olds, should the party win the next general election.

The figures are based on ONS labour force survey data analysed by the House of Commons library.

Labour asked the library to analyse data compiled by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published in its ChildMind the Gap report.

Earlier this year a survey by the IPPR claimed that the UK’s maternal employment rate was ten percentage points behind OECD countries, such as Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

It said that international evidence showed that affordable childcare could increase the maternal employment rate by between five and ten percentage points.

The analysis shows that if maternal employment for mothers of three- and four-year-olds rose by ten per cent in England, and the number of mothers in work who worked more hours increased by the same amount from part-time to full-time, 135,000 more mothers would be working.

If there was a 5 per cent increase, the policy would benefit 69,000 mothers of three- and four-year-olds.

According to Department for Education figures, there are currently around half a million three- and four-year-olds and their families eligible for the funding.

Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s shadow minister for childcare and children, said, ‘Childcare is a big part of David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis. Families have been hit hard by the soaring cost of childcare, which is up 30 per cent since 2010 – five times faster than wages. 

‘At the same time, there are fewer childcare places available and families have seen the support they relied on to help make childcare affordable has been reduced.’

‘Our plans to extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three- and four-year-olds will make a real difference and help thousands of mums shut out of the labour market or prevented from working the hours they want by high childcare costs.’

Labour would pay for the extra hours available to households where all adults are in work, including single parent and couple households.

The increase in the free hours from 15 to 25 a week would be funded through an increase in the bank levy, which would raise an extra £800m a year.

Households not eligible for the 25 hours of free childcare would still be entitled to the 15 hours.

Commenting on Labour's proposals, Liz Bayram, chief executive of PACEY, said, 'PACEY is supportive of any proposals to increase the availability of high quality childcare to children and families. Labour’s bold ambitions to build on the success of the current free entitlement are welcome, so long as any extension is robust, properly funded and embraces all forms of childcare – both in home and group settings – so parents can choose the childcare setting that best suits their family’s needs.'

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