Labour plans to increase free childcare

Three and four year olds could be entitled to 25 hours free childcare a week if Labour wins the next election

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Working parents could be entitled to an extra 10 hours of free childcare a week if Labour wins the next election, shadow chancellor Ed Balls says.

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Children aged 3 and 4 currently get 15 hours a week. 

Under the new deal, the Labour government would pay for 25 hours of childcare a week for three-to-four-year-olds. This would apply for single parent households or two-parent households where both work.

Labour will make this pledge at its autumn conference in Brighton today. Ed Balls says it will be funded through an increase in the bank levy.

He will ask the government’s spending watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, to audit the pledges before the election in 2015.

He said: “At a time when resources are tight and families are under pressure that cannot be right. So I can announce today the next Labour government will increase the bank levy rate to raise an extra £800 million a year.

“And we will use the money, for families where all parents are in work, to increase free childcare places for three and four-years-olds from 15 hours to 25 hours a week.”

But Conservative Sajid Javid dismissed it as a “stunt”.

The treasury minister said: “Ed Balls knows this is not allowed under the Budget Responsibility Act and the OBR’s Charter, so this is just a stunt to try and distract attention from the fact that Labour have been found out for making unfunded commitments that would just mean more borrowing and more debt.”

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