General Election 2019: The proposals on childcare  

What are the main political parties promising on childcare?

As the UK readies itself for an election on 12 December, political parties have been attempting to secure the votes of parents with the offer of funded childcare.

 early years election pledges

But what are the main parties in England offering and how will it affect childcare providers? 
Currently, the early years sector is facing a crisis after funding rates were set based on a cost analysis conducted in 2015. This has forced many childcare providers to increase fees for non-funded hours and, in some cases, close. 
The current government offers 15 hours of funded care and education to all three- and four-year-olds, as well as 30 hours for some working families and 15 hours for disadvantaged two-year-olds. 
The government announced it would increase the funding rates paid to providers in 2020/21 – but only by a total of £66 million. To put this in perspective, there is at least a £662 million gap between the total current funding and what is needed. 

Earlier this year, the government released a list of how this will be reflected in the rates paid to local authorities. This is available on our website here. 

Here, we have taken a look at the pledges from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. This page will be updated as more pledges are made and details are provided.  


The party has pledged to spend “£250 million a year, for at least three years” as well as a £250 million “capital spending boost” on wraparound childcare. The pledge is believed to refer to after school and holiday care.

The Conservative party has also announced that it plans to increase the National Living Wage to £10.50 by 2024. 

The party has promised to increase Ofsted's powers and pledged to increase its budget by an additional £10 million. It said it would run a pilot of inspections all run without notice.

Conservatives’ early years policies at a glance: 

  • £250 million a year, plus a £250 million "capital spending boost" for "wraparound childcare"

  • £10.50 National Living Wage by 2024 

  • Funding rates: No change


The Labour Party has promised to extend the 30-hours childcare offer to all children aged between two- and four-years-olds in England. 

It has also promised to spend £1 billion reversing cuts to the Sure Start programme and open 1,000 new children’s centres. 

The party has also pledged to help the early years sector transition towards a “qualified, graduate-led workforce” and aims to “improve the pay and skills levels of childcare workers”. 

Labour has promised to increase the minimum wage for workers aged 16 and over to £10 an hour if they win the election. 

Labour has pledged to scrap Ofsted and replace it with "health checks" led by local authorities and more in-depth inspections triggered by complaints or concerns raised at the health checks.

Labour’s early years policies at a glance: 

  • 30 hours for all two-, three- and four-year-olds in England 

  • 1,000 new Sure Start centres 

  • £10 an hour minimum wage for workers aged 16+  

  • Funding rates: £7.57 an hour for two-year-olds and £5.19 an hour for three- and four-year-olds for universal 30 hours offer.

Liberal Democrats 

The Liberal Democrats have promised to give working parents of children aged nine months and above 35 hours a week of funded childcare.  

Under the proposed plans, all children aged two- to four-year-olds would also be given 35 hours of funded childcare for 48 weeks of the year, with the funding for children aged nine months and older given to working families. 

The party has also pledged to increase early years funding rates. 

The Liberal Democrats plan to replace Ofsted with a new system, looking at a "broader range of factors" including the wellbeing of staff and children.

Liberal Democrats’ early years policies at a glance: 

  • 35 hours a week of funded care for 48 weeks a year for all two-, three- and four-year-olds in England 

  • 35 hours a week of care for children from nine months old in working families 

  • 20% increase in minimum wage for workers on zero-hour contracts

  • Funding rates: £7.86 an hour for children aged between nine and 23 months old for 35 hours offer (for working families), £7.21 an hour for two-year-olds and £5.32 an hour for three and four-year-olds for the universal 35 hours offer.


Ask your next MP to ensure any childcare offers are properly funded.

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This page will be updated as more pledges are made and details are provided. 



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