Welsh parties focus on supporting children and families

With less than two weeks to go to the upcoming general election, NDNA Cymru takes a look at the Welsh manifestos to see what focus is being given to early education and care.  

NDNA has looked at policies from (in alphabetical order) Plaid Cymru,  Welsh Conservatives, Welsh Labour and  Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Here’s a round-up of the key pledges within the four main areas: 

  • Funded early learning and childcare. 
  • Other support for parents and families  
  • Workforce and training  
  • Business and regulation  

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Cymru said: “In Wales it is crucial to recognise how important the early years sector is to the foundational economy and acknowledge the role that private and voluntary providers play in delivering high quality and flexible places for children and families.

“Government funding rates for the Childcare Offer for Wales have not increased for the last three years and rising costs are continuing to put significant pressure on the sustainability of the early years sector. We want to see MPs in Wales support their local providers to future proof childcare in Wales. 

“Funding rates must reflect the true cost of delivering places, especially if parties want to consider lowering the age at which children become eligible for funded hours. This will be welcome for parents but if providers can’t be sustainable, it will undermine any plans to offer more childcare places.

“This election represents a chance to continue the journey on children’s rights, invest in childcare, and support families. These are the vital steps towards giving all our children the best start in life by making the first five years count.”

General Election 2024 Welsh party manifesto pledges reference guide 

Funded early learning and childcare: 

Plaid Cymru

• A national and free Welsh-medium early years education and childcare service, Meithrin Cymru, providing high quality provision for children aged 12 months until they are eligible for full time education

• Review the implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales and the Additional Learning Needs Act, to ensure consistency in terms of the education and support learners receive wherever they are in Wales 

 • Making sure that Welsh language childcare is available in all parts of Wales.

Welsh Conservatives  

• Give working parents 30 hours of free childcare a week from when their child is nine months old to when they start school.

Welsh Labour  

 • Continuing to expand childcare for two-year-olds through the Flying Start programme – including in Welsh-language settings – and by providing 30 hours of funded childcare a week for up to 48 weeks a year for eligible parents of three and four-year-olds through the Childcare Offer 

• The Childcare Offer is also available to parents in training and education, and to foster carers and kinship carers. 

Welsh Liberal Democrats  

•  Appoint a Cabinet Minister for children and young people

• 30 hours per week of funded, part-time childcare for every child from 9 months to school age, and investment in school holiday provision

• Pilots of direct cash payments to parents through a Welsh Childcare Allowance for children from 0-3 years to improve parental choice.  

Other Support for Parents and families  

Plaid Cymru

• Review the implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales and the Additional Learning Needs Act

• Increase Child Benefit by £20 per week. This will take 60,000 children out of poverty in Wales.

• Scrap the Conservative policy of the ‘two-child’ limit on universal credit payments and end the benefit cap. 

Welsh Conservatives  

• Raise the child benefit earning threshold 

• Work with businesses to provide a total of 150,000 apprenticeships over the next Senedd term

• Accelerate the rollout of Universal Credit.  

Welsh Labour  

• Ensure free school meals and breakfasts for all primary school children  

• Support children and their families throughout their first 1,000 days to give them the best start in life

• Review the parental leave system within the first year in UK government to consider the contribution of parental leave in a growing economy. 

Welsh Liberal Democrats  

• Doubling Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 a week. 

• Make all parental pay and leave day-one rights and extend them to self-employed parents. 

• Restore free school meals during the school holidays, extending to all primary school children when public finances allow.  

• Incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law 

• Increase pay for paternity leave to 90% of earnings, with a cap for high earners 

• Introduce a ‘Toddler Top-Up’: an enhanced rate of child benefit for one-year-olds. 

Workforce and training  

Plaid Cymru

• Investment in the childcare workforce, including offering free Welsh language learning opportunities in the English medium sector. 

Welsh Conservatives  

• Open-up more routes for young people to achieve, working with businesses to provide a total of 150,000 apprenticeships over the next Senedd term 

• 2p off employee National Insurance  

• Maintain the National Living Wage in each year of the next Parliament at two-thirds of median earnings. 

Welsh Labour  

• Deliver the Young Person’s Guarantee – (to provide everyone aged 16 to 24, living in Wales, with support to gain a place in education or training or help to get into work or self-employment) 

• Provide high-quality apprenticeships for people of all age 

• Make sure the minimum wage is a genuine living wage and remove the age bands 

• Ban zero hours contracts 

Welsh Liberal Democrats  

• Boost the take-up of apprenticeships, guaranteeing they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage, scrapping the lower apprentice rate  

• Establish an independent review to recommend a genuine living wage across all sectors

• Set a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand  

• Replace the broken apprenticeship levy with a broader and more flexible skills and training levy. 

Business and regulation 

Plaid Cymru

• Reform in Wales of Non-Domestic Rates, also known as Business Rates, to establish a system which better supports our small businesses.

Welsh Conservatives  

• Support business to thrive by abolishing business rates for small businesses and reform the outdated tax on growth

Welsh Liberal Democrats  

• Boost small businesses to create new local jobs, reforming business rates in Wales. 

  • Wales

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