Q&A: Labour's free childcare proposals

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: PA.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: PA.

Labour has said that more than a million families will benefit from its plans to roll out free childcare to all two-to-four-year-olds.

Here are the key questions:

:: What is Labour proposing?

The party has promised to extend 30 hours of free childcare each week to all children before they start school, regardless of family circumstances, in a bid to give every child a good start in life.

:: What impact does Labour believe its policy will have?

Jeremy Corbyn's party says that more than 1.3 million children would benefit, as complex rules mean only 40% of two-year-olds qualify while many working parents with three and four-year-old children are missing out.

:: How many hours of free childcare are available now?

In England, all three to four-year-olds are eligible for 570 hours of childcare or early education per year - which equates to around 15 hours a week for 38 weeks.

Some two-year-olds can get free childcare too. The Government has also offered 30 hours of free childcare to working families meeting certain earnings thresholds from September 2017.

:: How much does childcare cost?

Part-time childcare for a child under two in nursery costs an average of £116.25 per week in Britain while full time childcare costs an average of £222.36, according to the independent Money Advice Service.

:: What are the provisions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Three and four-year-olds are eligible for 600 hours of childcare or early education per year in Scotland - which is one hour more every week for 38 weeks than in the UK. Some two-year-olds also benefit.

In Wales, three and four-year-olds can get 10 hours of free early education a week for 38 weeks, and in some areas two-year-olds can get free part-time childcare.

Children in Northern Ireland are entitled to at least 12.5 hours of free pre-school education a week for 38 weeks before starting school.

:: What are the Tories proposing?

The Conservatives have pledged to introduce 30 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds for "working parents who find it difficult to manage the costs of childcare".

They have also promised to "institute a capital fund" so primary schools can develop nurseries where they do not have the facilities to provide one, and have pledged to continue to support maintained nurseries.