Liberal Democrats have done a great deal in Government to provide more and better early education and childcare. From increasing the free entitlement for three and four year olds and extending it to disadvantaged two year olds to introducing the Early Years Pupil Premium and helping parents with the costs through tax relief, this government has been on the side of young children and their families.
Two things have happened relating to childcare in the last two weeks. Nick Clegg has made some commitments about what Liberal Democrats would fight for in the next Parliament and the House of Lords Select Committee on Affordable Childcare has produced its report following many months of hearing evidence. Members may be interested as to how these two things fit together.
Baroness Claire Tyler and myself, who were both responsible for the “Balanced Working Life” policy paper and conference motion which set out Lib Dem proposals in this area, were also both on the Select Committee (The only 2 Lib Dems members out of a total 13 which I think underlines the fact that we did well to get as much of our policy in as we did). We worked hard to get the committee to agree to evidence based recommendations which we knew to be compatible with Liberal Democrat policy, though, of course, it was a cross party committee. Although the resulting report was by no means a Liberal Democrat Manifesto, it had several features in common with our policies, Nick’s recent speeches and what we hope to see in our manifesto.
The Committee’s main recommendation was that, in setting priorities within the early years budget, the government should focus on providing high quality childcare for the most disadvantaged children because it is they who will benefit most from it and therefore it is good value for money.
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