Here’s what the manifestos are promising, and below, PACEY’s response. We hope you find this useful in making your own decision about which party has the best ideas for supporting a sustainable childcare system in this country; ultimately, it is for you to judge.
For further assistance to help you decide who to vote for, we hope you find this collection of interesting tools and websites helpful.
The Conservative party
- To bring in tax-free childcare to support parents back into work.
- To give working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds 30 hours of free childcare a week.
- To invest at least £7 billion over the next Parliament to provide good school places.
- To ensure our best head teachers take control of failing primary schools, by expanding the National Leaders of Education programme
The Labour party
- To expand free childcare from 15 to 25 hours per week for working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds; paid for with an increase in the bank levy.
- To introduce a legal guarantee for parents of primary school children to access wraparound childcare from 8am to 6pm through their local primary school.
- To restore the role of Sure Start centres as family hubs. Sure Start will have an obligation to provide families with access to childcare, opening their facilities to charities and local childcare providers.
- To protect the education budget and raise teaching standards, making sure there are smaller class sizes for 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds.
- To increase the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children.
The Liberal Democrat party
- To protect school budgets from nursery to 19.
- To incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into British law.
- To ensure 20 hours of free childcare a week for all two to four-year olds; and all children of working parents from nine months.
- To complete the introduction of tax-free childcare and include childcare support in Universal Credit, refunding 85% of childcare costs.
- To implement the proposals outlined in the Government’s Children’s Mental Health Taskforce report to build better links with schools, ensuring all children develop mental resilience, and get support and care quickly.
- To extend free school meals to all primary school pupils.
- To ensure that by 2020 every formal early years setting employs at least one person who holds an Early Years Teacher qualification.
- To working with sector organisations to recruit more staff with Early Years Qualified status, and extend full Qualified Teacher status to all those who are properly trained.
The Green party
- To provide free universal early education and childcare, moving towards a system in which early years education extends until the age of 6.
- To provide free school meals for all.
- Nannies to be on a national register, enabling families to check the suitability of their potential employee.
- To give working grandparents the same right to request flexi-work as parents, if caring for grandchildren.
- To encourage the provision of occasional ‘ad hoc’ care with special attention being paid to the needs of disabled children. This to be overseen by a cabinet-level, cross-departmental minister for childcare.
- To encourage parents and carers in a community to set up networks of babysitters and playgroups.
- To seek to improve the standing of childminders whilst making sure that they earn a living wage for what is a demanding job, while maintaining the affordability of care.
- To honour existing childcare voucher and tax-free childcare schemes.
- To extend existing schemes to informal, non-Ofsted registered childminders.
- To offer wrap-around childcare before and after school for every school-age child.
- To amend planning legislation to ensure more nurseries are built to expand childcare places.
- To give parents easy access to emergency childcare through their local authority.
- To initiate a thorough review of childcare and child safeguarding systems.
- To provide an extra year of early-years education, allowing parents to choose to work.
- To provide financially accessible childcare in order to enable women to work, particularly in deprived areas, through the Welsh language and for children with disabilities.
- To work towards improving facilities and qualifications for childcare.
Liz Bayram, PACEY’s Chief Executive said:
"All parties have now laid out their stalls, and with each there is this fundamental promise of increased free care, although there is little focus on how they propose to improve quality.
"While we welcome many of these manifesto promises on childcare; such as Labour’s pledge to restore the role of Sure Start centres as family hubs; we have concerns too. Primarily that the core theme of all three main party manifestos - an extension of free entitlement - will not address the fundamental problems caused by the under investment of childcare in this country.
"Many childcare professionals have struggled with cuts in local authority funding for free early education places, during the current administration, as well as reduced support and training from their local authority. Without a guarantee of further support and investment, providers will struggle to deliver the high quality service that children deserve.
"For our members, recognition of the essential role played by childcare professionals, and clear plans to enhance the status of the profession would be welcome. It is heartening to see recognition of the need to raise the status of those who work in the early years in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, and we welcome their pledge to extend Qualified Teacher Status to early years professionals. The Green Party and Plaid Cymru manifestos also refer to the importance of professional development of those working in the sector.
"Ultimately, we will welcome any government bold enough to tackle the high cost of childcare without compromising on the quality of provision. Whoever forms the next government; that will continue to be our enduring message."