- Labour would legislate to force primary schools to guarantee childcare
- Parents would still have to pick up the bill for costs or use vouchers
- Stephen Twigg to argue parents struggle to juggle work and family life
- Harriet Harman calls for ‘granny leave’ to allow grandparents to take time off to look after grandchildren
10:53 GMT, 21 September 2013
14:13 GMT, 21 September 2013
Guarantee: Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg says Labour will help parents get back into work
Primary schools will have to offer childcare from 8am to 6pm under Labour plans to help working families.
The guarantee that children can be looked after outside traditional school hours is designed to help parents who struggle to fit jobs in with ferrying their children around.
Labour is also examining a radical plan to allow grandparents to take time off from work, similar to maternity leave, to help look after their grandchildren.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg will tomorrow argue that the plan to guarantee primary-aged childcare will help get parents back into work, providing a boost to the wider economy.
The new Labour policy is one of several aimed at tackling the cost of living expected to be announced at the party’s annual conference in Brighton.
There will also be a promise to strengthen the minimum wage, reverse benefits changes dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’ and action to reduce energy bills.
Under the ‘Primary Childcare Guarantee’ parents will still have to pay for the childcare through state-funded vouchers or their own money.
But by ensuring schools remain open and willing to look after children from 8am to 6pm, parents can commit to working longer hours.
In his speech to the Labour conference tomorrow, Mr Twigg will say: ‘For school-age children, childcare has become a logistical nightmare.
‘David Cameron scrapped Labour’s programme to support before and after-school clubs, leaving many parents struggling to juggle work and family life.
‘If we want an economy that works for working people, we must support parents trying to balance these pressures.’
The Primary Childcare Guarantee will be written into law if Labour wins the 2015 election, Mr Twigg will announce.
Conference: Labour leader Ed Miliband (left in Brighton today) and deputy leader Harriet Harman (right) are at pains to prove they have election-fighting policies at the annual conference, which begins tomorrow
‘This will give all parents of primary school children the certainty that they can access childcare from 8am-6pm through their school. A clear message to hard working parents: Labour is on your side.’
But in a blow to Mr Miliband’s claim to be helping people feeling the pinch, a new poll shows most people still blame Labour.
The YouGov survey found 30 per cent said Labour was to to blame for the fall in living standards over the last few years, compared with 16 per cent who blame the Conservatives alone and 9 per cent who blame the coalition.
Q&A: Ed Miliband’s wife Justine (in red coat, below right) spoke in Brighton ahead of the Labour Party annual conference
All parties together are blamed by 19 per cent while just one per cent said it was the fault of the Lib Dems.
Tackling the costs and difficulties of bringing up children have become a major political battleground.
Parenting costs: Labour leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine took the chance to take their children Daniel (right) and Sam (left) for a walk along Brighton beach today
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg this week announced that all children in reception, year one and year two will receive free school meals.
He argued the policy aimed at children aged seven and under will reduce costs for parents while increasing attainment.
Conservative childcare minister Liz Truss has also pushed for reform of rules for nurseries and childminders to cut costs.
Labour points to figures showing two thirds of parents of need some form of before-and-after school or holiday care to combine family and work. But almost a third of these were unable to find it.
Meanwhile, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman is pushing for the party to promise to introduce ‘granny leave’ in its 2015 manifesto.
It would allow grandparents to help out with looking after grandchildren without giving up work altogether.
Under the plan mothers and fathers would be able to transfer part of their flexible parental leave to grandparents.
Ms Harman said many grandmothers in
particular are forced to decide between their own jobs and helping their
daughter or daughter-in-law to return to work.
She told The Independent: ‘They shouldn’t have to make that choice. I am going to fight for it to be in the manifesto.
am determined that it should be. I am going to make sure that we have a
big offer on childcare. It is such a central issue for our women.
Reform: Both Nick Clegg, left, and Liz Truss, right, have pushed for changes to childcare laws
‘It is down to Labour to listen to women and respond. Our manifesto is going to understand what is going on in people’s lives and put forward solutions that help.’
A recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank found grandmothers who look after their grandchildren are likely to be low paid, younger and in work.
Two-thirds of grandmothers who provide between 10 and 19 hours of child care a week earn less than £25,999 a year, compared to a quarter who earn £44,000 or more.
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Labour childcare: Schools to stay open from 8am to 6pm to get parents back to work Stephen Twigg says at party …
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