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Labour renews vow to extend universal free childcare

The Labour Party has renewed the key vows in its manifesto around childcare and early years at its annual conference in Brighton. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told delegates that under a Labour Government, high-quality early education would be universally available for every two-, three-, and four-year-old. She also pledged to reverse funding cuts to Sure Start Children's Centres by providing £500 million per year of ring-fenced funding.

Labour will also shortly be publishing a draft charter outlining the principles of a National Education Service for a cradle-to-grave education system ‘supporting everyone throughout their lives', including the early years.

Commenting on Labour's plans, PACEY Chief Executive Liz Bayram said:

“Today’s commitment from Labour to provide universal free childcare for two- to four-year-olds no matter what a family earns is ambitious. We know high quality childcare and early education can help close the gap for our most disadvantaged children and that the cost of childcare remains a key concern for families,  so PACEY welcomes this commitment but with caution.

“It can only be turned in to a reality by working with the sector on how it is implemented and by ensuring adequate funding to support high quality delivery. Lessons need to be learnt from the current 30 hours implementation. In particular spreading the good practice some local authorities have around implementation and partnership working and ensuring long-term sustainable funding of this pledge.”