Labour announces childcare policy: 'free' hours and sure start investment

Responding to Labour’s plans for universal free childcare for all children aged two to four, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:
“This is a positive policy for the thousands of parents struggling to afford childcare – but the lack of detail on how it will be funded will strike fear into the hearts of many providers.
“We currently have a funding shortfall in the early years of two thirds of a billion pounds. That shortfall, which has led to thousands of provider closures, is a direct result of an ongoing electoral arms race between political parties to entice parents with ‘free childcare’ without thinking through how it will be paid for. It has meant that very few parents receive truly ‘free’ childcare and has ultimately pushed up prices for non-funded hours.
“This is an already unsustainable situation and so the last thing we want is more of the same: any new policy like this needs to come with a firm commitment to sort out the current funding mess first.”

Responding to Labour’s proposal of £1 billion investment in Sure Start, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:
“The fate of Sure Start centres has hung in the balance for too long so we would welcome any policy that safeguarded their future. The fact is that these are vital and at times life-saving services for young families in disadvantaged areas and, of the 1,000 that have closed in recent years, many more have seen their services reduced to little more than underused contact points.
"No one is saying that these children’s centres are a silver bullet for tackling the complex problems that go hand-in-hand with poverty. However, they remain amongst the most effective interventions we have seen in helping parents and children that would otherwise be hard to reach and any policy that supports them is a step in the right direction.”


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