PM Aims To Extend Free Childcare

The prime minister is to set out a plan to extend free part-time childcare to all two-year-olds. Gordon Brown told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that he hoped the move would help improve “upward social mobility” in Britain.

However the idea, to be formally unveiled his leader’s speech to the Labour Party conference on Tuesday, remains only an aspiration rather than a pledge and may take 10 years to come into effect.

Parents are currently entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare a week when their children are three and four, a policy gradually introduced by the Labour government in recent years.

Around 20,000 parents on low incomes also have access to free services for their two-year-olds as part of a pilot scheme.

And Brown wants to extend the scheme to more families as part of efforts to help mothers get back to work and improve educational opportunities through high-quality childcare settings.

“I think more choice for women and for families is one of themes of the next stage of our policy reforms,” he said.

“What I want us to do is to create thousands more nursery places, not just for three and four-year-olds but also for two-year-olds.

“This is not a government that walks away but a government that’s on the side of hard-working families, helping them to climb the ladder.”

The prime minister added that he hoped the plan, which could cost up to £1bn to extend to 600,000 children, would contribute to a “new wave of social mobility – upward mobility – people being able to do better than their parents”.