Labour promise 25 hours of free childcare a week

Mother and child

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has announced the Labour party will increase the number of hours of free childcare for working parents if it wins the next general election.

Three- and four-year-olds currently receive 15 hours of free childcare a week, but Labour will up this to 25 hours for working parents. This includes single parents as well as households where both parents are working.

Balls said the move will help families struggling with the "cost of living crisis" and mean parents who want to work part-time will be able to do so without having to worry about the cost of childcare.

The cost of the extra ten hours of childcare a week will be met by Labour raising the bank levy to raise an extra £800 million a year.

Balls said: "Childcare is a vital part of our economic infrastructure that, alongside family support and flexible working, should give parents the choice to stay at home with their children when they are very small and to balance work and family as they grow older.

"But for many families high childcare costs mean that it doesn't even add up to go to work. So to make work pay for families, we must act.

"For the first time, parents will be able to work part-time without having to worry about the cost of childcare. Making work pay, tackling the cost of living crisis, a radical transformation in the provision of childcare in our country."

Last week, Nick Clegg said that all children at infant school in England will receive free lunches from September 2014. It is estimated that this will result in an extra 1.5 million children aged between five and seven being eligible for free school meals.

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