Jeremy Corbyn to announced childcare measures in Leeds

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Jeremy Corbyn will use a speech on the outskirts of Leeds tomorrow to pledge to build more Sure Start Centres in Yorkshire and boost free childcare.

Speaking tomorrow morning Mr Corbyn will say Labour would provide 30 hours per week of free care to all children aged between two and four, saving parents as much as £5,000 per year.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveils the Labour battle bus while on the General Election campaign trail in Liverpool. Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveils the Labour battle bus while on the General Election campaign trail in Liverpool. Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

Currently, parents of three- to four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours per week of free childcare, with 30 hours available to those meeting strict criteria.

But Labour says a government led by Mr Corbyn would lower the age of access by a year and expand the professional care offer in a move that would benefit close to 900,000 children by the end of a five-year Parliament.

The extra care provision will be funded by a package of measures, according to a party spokesman, including raising tax on the top five per cent of earners and reversing past Tory “tax giveaways”. Mr Corbyn will make the announcement while on a visit to an early arts project in Pudsey on day four of the General Election campaign.

“Parents are struggling to afford the childcare support they need, while many children are going hungry and growing up homeless,” he is expected to say.

“Labour will open a Sure Start centre in every community and fund 30 hours’ free childcare for all two- to four-year-olds to unlock the potential of every child.”

The cost of childcare has risen three times faster than wages in the West Midlands and the South West and twice as fast in the rest of England, according to Labour analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

The party says cuts to Sure Start budgets - axed by £978m between 2010-2018, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies - has held children back from poorer backgrounds in terms of their learning. Sure Start services include healthcare advice, supporting children when learning to speak and assisting with young learning and playing.

A report from the education committee, Tackling Disadvantage in the Early Years, found that the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and more advantaged counterparts was already evident when children begin school aged five.

Young pupils from less fortunate backgrounds can start school with a gap the equivalent of 4.3 months of learning, said the MPs’ 2019 report, with the gap doubling to 9.5 months at the end of primary school.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner is due to tell parents in Leeds: “Investment in the early years can transform the lives of children and their families across this country, just as the last Labour government transformed mine. The Tories have slashed funding for Sure Start leading to a loss of 1,000 centres, while their so-called free childcare offer locks out those families most in need of support.”