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Cooper wants free childcare for all

Published 26/05/2015

Yvette Cooper has called for a Scandinavian-style system of universal childcare
Yvette Cooper has called for a Scandinavian-style system of universal childcare

Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper has said her party needs to revolutionise the way it supports families by offering free childcare for all.

The shadow home secretary has called for a Scandinavian-style system of universal childcare, with 30 hours of free care for all pre-school youngsters over the age of two.

For younger children, Ms Cooper told The Independent there should be a new system of tax credits to cover the period after a mother finishes maternity leave.

Writing in the newspaper, Ms Cooper said the pledge would be a cornerstone of her leadership campaign.

She said: "We should campaign for universal childcare - as other countries, including Scandinavia, have.

"That means breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, holiday clubs and free nursery places and childcare available full-time, not just for three and four-year-olds but two-year-olds too."

She said Labour "did not convince" enough voters of its commitment to families during the general election campaign, and that the party needed to demonstrate a commitment to extra support for younger families.

Ms Cooper added: "It means recognising that when children are small, parents need more choice about returning to work, working part-time, or staying at home."

It comes as the Queen's Speech will set out a programme of legislation that Prime Minister David Cameron said would reach "right across our country, into every city, every community and every home''.

The plan includes the creation of two million more jobs, measures to help people buy their own homes and the promise of 30 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds.

Last week Ms Cooper warned her party against swinging too far to the left or right as she stressed there was a mountain to climb to become electable again.

She said the party had to ''face some hard truths'' and acknowledge that it could not repeat mistakes made under Ed Miliband, but insisted it was wrong to believe that ''there needs to be blood on the floor'' for Labour to rise again.

Ms Cooper said the party could not afford to ''flail about'' or ''give in to the Tories'' but must urgently produce plans to change to win elections next year in London, Wales and Scotland.

In an apparent swipe at her main rivals in the leadership race, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham - seen as the unions' likely choice - and the Blairite Liz Kendall, Ms Cooper said ''there is no comfort blanket for us either in Labour victories or Labour defeats of the past'' because ''the world has changed''.

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