General Election 2024 – Main political parties plan for the Early Years sector. 


Early years providers say the sector is in desperate need of help as they find themselves in the middle of a financial and recruitment crisis.

Thousands have already closed their doors, and many nurseries, childminders and pre-schools are grappling with hefty deficits, multiple job vacancies and growing demand for their services.

It comes as more and more families are set to become eligible for government-funded childcare – with plans to extend the entitlement to up to 30 hours a week for the parents of nine-month-old babies by September next year.

But with a General Election looming, what are the main parties’ plans for early years education and childcare?


The Conservatives have presided over what they describe as the “biggest expansion in childcare history”, with working parents of two-year-olds now entitled to 15 hours of “free childcare” a week.

The party says it is committed to its plans to continue that roll-out, with eligible parents of nine-month-olds due to get 15 hours of childcare from September 2024, and 30 hours from September 2025, which the Tories say will save the average family £6,900 a year.

They have also pledged to spend £500m to increase the hourly rate of funding over the next two years, as well as help recruitment and provide extra places.


Labour claims it will “fix” the childcare sector if it is elected to govern on 4 July.

The party says it is also committed to the offer of 30 hours funded childcare to help more parents get back to work.

It promises to create 100,000 extra places by helping to create more than 3,000 new nursery classes.

Spare school classrooms will be converted into nursery spaces, funded through Labour’s plans to scrap the tax breaks currently given to private schools.

The party has also promised to “support staff working in childcare and early education so they are recognised for the skilled and important work they are doing”.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems promise to review the rates being paid to early years providers for funded childcare to “ensure they cover the actual cost” of providing childcare and education.

They want to develop clear career strategies for nursery staff to ensure the majority of people working with young children have a relevant qualification.

And they have promised a greater focus on special educational needs during the early years, with more training for staff.

The party also says it would “restore childminding as a valued part of the early years system” with changes to the registration process and regulations.

Green Party

The Green Party will publish its General Election manifesto on 12 June.

Although details are not yet known of its current plans for early years and childcare, the party has previously committed to free universal childcare.

Reform UK

Reform UK has yet to reveal any plans for early years and childcare.