The week of the Manifestos

This week we’ve seen the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour party unveil their 2024 election manifestos including their key pledges to the early years and childcare.  Here’s a summary.

Liberal Democrats key manifesto points published 10 June

Protect and support the rights and wellbeing of every child by:

  • Incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law.

Give parents genuine flexibility and choice in the crucial early months by:

  • Doubling Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 a week.
  • Increasing pay for paternity leave to 90% of earnings, with a cap for high earners.

Ensure that all parents can access childcare that is flexible, affordable and fair by:

  • Reviewing the rates paid to providers for free hours to ensure they cover the actual costs of delivering high-quality childcare and early years education.
  • Developing a career strategy for nursery staff, including a training programme with the majority of those working with children aged two to four to have a relevant Early Years qualification or be working towards one.
  • Including a specific emphasis on identifying and supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities in the new training programme for early years staff.
  • Boosting the take-up of apprenticeships, including by guaranteeing they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage by scrapping the lower apprentice rate.
  • Replacing the three different current registration processes with a single childcare register.
  • Commissioning a practitioner-led review to simplify regulation, reduce administrative burdens and attract new childminders while maintaining high standards.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “It’s good to see the manifesto incorporates the UNCRC and is putting children first.

“We are particularly encouraged that some of the Liberal Democrat policy pledges reiterate the messages we have been giving out to all political parties. This includes the importance of high quality early education and care and a clear long-term workforce strategy to support the profession and raise its status.”

Conservative Party key points from the manifesto published 11 June

  • Give working parents 30 hours of free childcare a week from when their child is nine months old to when they start school.
  • A Family Hub in every local authority in England.
  • Accelerate the rollout of Universal Credit to ensure it always pays to work.
  • Introduce the Advanced British Standard, a new approach to 16-19 education which will build on the best of A Levels and T Levels.
  • Create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England in every year of Parliament.
  • Change the law to close university courses in England with the worst outcomes for their students.
  • Take 2p off employee National Insurance.
  • Maintain the National Living Wage in each year of the next Parliament at two-thirds of median earnings.
  • Continue to ease the burden of business rates for high street, leisure and hospitality businesses.
  • Keep the VAT threshold under review.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “The early education and care sector has been working very hard to deliver the Conservative Government’s ambition to deliver 30 hours of funded childcare to all children from nine months old. The next phase of 15 hours per week for nine month olds comes in from September at a time when the sector is facing a workforce crisis.

“NDNA has been lobbying hard for the funding system to be properly reviewed before any additional hours are promised. Any increase in the National Minimum Wage and other costs must be factored into the hourly funding rate that providers are given. Currently 83% say that they make a loss on three and four-year-old funded places.

“Private, voluntary and independent providers must be exempt from paying unfair business rates which puts them at a disadvantage.”

Labour

Key points from the Labour manifesto published 13 June include:

  • Open an additional 3,000 nurseries through upgrading space in primary schools. 
  • Improve the quality of maths teaching across nurseries and primary schools.
  • Reform OFSTED no single headline grade.
  • Free breakfast clubs in every primary.
  • Review the parental leave system to support working families, within first year in government.
  • Review Universal Credit so that it makes work pay and tackles poverty.
  • Youth guarantee of access to training, an apprenticeship, or support to find work for all 18- to 21-year-olds.
  • Training and upskilling – new Technical Excellence Colleges
  • Transform the Apprenticeship levy to give employers flexibility to train their workforce in new and relevant skills.
  • Replace the business rates system.
  • Improve quality of provision: work with LAs to boost provision where inadequate.
  • Ban exploitative zero hours contracts, end fire and rehire and introduce basic rights from day one including parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal.
  • The minimum wage is a genuine living wage which will account for the cost of living. Remove the age bands, so all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “High quality early education and care is crucial to children’s development and supporting families. Currently the sector is facing major challenges with underfunding and a workforce crisis. 

“We are pleased that the Labour party is looking at linking minimum wages to the cost of living increases, but these must be factored into the funding rates. We must also have a system which supports providers with funding that covers full costs and allows investment in their workforce. 

“NDNA has been campaigning for business rates to be scrapped for nurseries who deliver funded hours on behalf of government and early years businesses must be a priority for the planned review. 

“Any policy must address the early years workforce crisis as a priority – creating additional places will not be possible without qualified and experienced staff. The PVI sector delivers 86% of places on the early years register in England, offering high quality provision flexibility and choice to parents, and meeting the specific needs of children in their early years. Private providers  must be fully supported and no additional provision in schools should threaten existing nurseries.” 

  • England

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