SHARON HODGSON: We need to know how the Tories will finance childcare policies

Sharon Hodgson wants to see improved childcare facilities for working families.
Sharon Hodgson wants to see improved childcare facilities for working families.
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Last week saw Parliament debate the Queen’s Speech announced the week before.

During the week MPs got the opportunity to debate the 27 new Government bills set out in the Queen’s Speech.

It is clear that the Government’s agenda is best described as a cloak-and-dagger situation where media-grabbing legislation, such as the European Union Referendum Bill, will hide the Tories’ unexplained plans to make even deeper cuts to the welfare budget, which combined with unfunded election pledges, will threaten working families and the public services we all rely upon.

One such area is the Government’s announced Childcare Bill, which plans to double childcare from 15 hours per week to 30 hours for working families.

I will be taking a particular interest in the passing of this Bill now that I have been appointed to cover my former position as Shadow Minister for Children and Families, alongside my role as Shadow Women and Equalities Minister.

During the Queen’s Speech debate covering Health and Social Care debate, I raised how improving childcare for working families has been central to Labour’s offer to families for many years now with fully costed plans, unlike the Conservatives who have given very little detail on how they will pay for this new policy.

If these plans continue to go ahead uncosted and unplanned they will add to an already strained childcare sector, which will hit families hard, especially if it leads to closure of much needed childcare provision which is a distinct possibility.

The Government must explain how they will fund this policy, along with how they will find the increased capacity and I plan to work closely with parents and the childcare sector in the coming weeks and months to get the best possible outcome so that children have the best start in life right across the UK, especially here in the North East.