Childcare & The Election: How will you be affected?

Who's your best man for childcare?

Who’s your best man for childcare?

Being one of the UK’s 1000’s of undecided voters I decided to use part of my Bank Holiday weekend to read up on the runners and riders in the upcoming UK General Election and see how some of their policies would affect someone in my position.

As a family with a child who is fast approaching 2 years old, I was particularly interested in the childcare provisions offered up by the 3 main parties and what the impact would be on our finances for the time period up until the boy goes to full time school.

The result was interesting and has gone a small way to helping me make up my mind when I am presented with the ballot paper:

The Current Situation

The Conservative / Liberal Government introduced 15 Hours of free childcare for every 3 and 4 year old in the country. This is based on term time attendance only and equates to 39 weeks per year.

The average cost of childcare according to Babycentre is £4.45 per hour, this is about what we are currently paying so I am happy to trust this number.

That means over the course of a year you will benefit from £2,603.25 worth of savings, totaling £5,206.50 over the 2 years the policy runs for.

The choices

The choices

2015 Election Promises

Conservatives

One of the flagship announcements from Mr Cameron recently was the Conservatives promise to increase the number of free childcare hours from 15 to 30 per week. this would double the saving made under the current arrangement and mean a total saving over 2 years of £10,413.00 if you use all 30 hours available.

As an extra unrelated bonus, the rise in basic rate of income tax to £12,500.00 per year would also save you around £400 per year

Labour

Before the Tories announced their 30 hour offer, Labour had proposed a rise in the free hours for childcare as well, but not quite to the same level. Their offer was up to 25 hours per week. This would mean that, over the 2 years, a total saving of £8,677.50 could be yours if the whole allocation was taken up.

No other tax incentives from Labour at this stage, but were you to have another child, paternity rights would change to allow you 4 weeks leave at £260 per week. This would give you an extra £700, but only if you had another child.

Liberal Democrats

On the surface of it, the Liberals have proposed a very appealing suggestion of starting free childcare at the age of 2, but only for 20 hours per week. This would mean a parent could benefit sooner, but only for 2 and a half days per week. The numbers, surprisingly, add up to exactly the same as the Conservatives at £10,413.00. The only difference is that this would be realised over 3 years rather than the Tories 2.

Similar tax cut promises from Nick Clegg and David Cameron mean that another £400 could be saved per year.

In other news, UKIP didn’t seem to have a policy on childcare and the Greens don’t want children to go to school until they’re 7. I neither had the time nor patience to go into these policies in great detail, I hope you don’t mind!

Conclusion

If you look at childcare alone then a Conservative or Lib Dem vote is for you and another coalition between the two would also result in the maximum savings. But there are many other factors to consider, so as ever, do your own research and remember:

“Whatever the outcome of the the government won’t look after you. You have to look after yourself.” @6pencethericher, Twitter, 30 April 2015

R

 

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