It feels as though the clock has been turned back to 1997 with Labour’s new year pledge to make affordable, accessible childcare a priority if Ed Miliband is elected prime minister in 2015.

The announcement including 25 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds for working parents has to be welcomed but there is much to be done before the vision can become a reality.

Currently there is 15 hours free childcare for all three and four year olds and for disadvantaged 2 year olds but the rate of funding goes nowhere near covering the real cost of providing quality childcare.

Before any political party can commit to extending the number of funded places or increase the number of funded hours from 15 to 25, they must undertake a consultation on the real cost of care and subsequently fund it adequately otherwise childcare providers will withdraw from the market.

We look forward to working with Labour’s childcare shadow minister Lucy Powell to make universal childcare a reality. 30 December 2013

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