Alliance responds to Lib Dem childcare proposals

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

"While we recognise that the cost of childcare is a significant challenge facing many parents across the country, it appears that our fears of this election turning into a game of oneupmanship when it comes to so-called ‘free childcare’ are coming to pass.

"In 2013 Labour pledged 25 hours a week, in 2015 the Conservatives pledged 30 and now we have the Liberal Democrats offering 35. And while we welcome the party’s recognition that current funding rates are inadequate and further investment into the sector is desperately needed, it’s not clear that those who have developed this policy have realised what a huge impact applying this offer to children from the age of nine months will have on the early years sector.

"With funding for existing government schemes still failing to match the cost of delivering places, many childcare providers are forced to make up that shortfall by charging the parents of younger children more than they otherwise would have. As such, if funded childcare is extended down to nine months - a move that is understandably likely to be warmly welcomed by parents - this ability to cross-subsidise will no longer exist. This means that even the promised increase in fees may not be enough to ensure that providers are able to balance the books and remain sustainable in the long term.

"As this election continues, we urge all parties to engage with providers to gain an understanding of how childcare businesses actually operate. Politicians may be making these promises to parents, but it’s early years providers who will have to deliver on them."

About the Alliance

  • The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country.
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 members and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.
  • The Alliance website is