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Jeremy Corbyn explains £5.3 billion cost of Labour’s childcare plan

Labour leader forced to explain extension of free childcare in more detail after interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has outlined the cost of a plan to extend 30 hours of free childcare to 1.3 million more children.

Having failed to explain the cost of the pledge to offer free childcare to cover all two-year-olds on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Corbyn has now explained it will amount to “£5.3 billion a year by the end of the next parliament.”

The Labour leader told Mumsnet he wanted “to ensure that all children get the opportunity of an exciting preschool environment.”

According to Labour, only 40% of two-year-olds currently qualify for free childcare, while some families of three and four-year-olds also miss out.

The Conservatives say they will introduce 30 hours of free childcare for families of three and four-year-olds from September.

Like Labour, the Lib Dems say they would extend it to apply to all two-year-olds, while the Greens want free universal childcare for all ages.

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High-quality childcare can transform a child’s life chances

The Labour leader said: “The current patchy support for childcare is holding back too many families. High-quality childcare can transform a child’s life chances and make it much easier for parents to work.”

Earlier in the day Corbyn was asked by presenter Emma Barnett whether he had the figure for the cost of his childcare policy.

When Corbyn said he would “give you the figure in a moment,” Barnett said: “You don’t know it? You’re logging into your iPad here – you’ve announced a major policy and you don’t know how much it will cost?”

It is one of several live interviews conducted during the election campaign in which politicians have, rather predictably, been caught out as unable to recite a series of figures from memory.

In a new interview with The Radio Times, veteran BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby said Corbyn had been treated unfairly by the media.

“I don’t think anyone could say that Corbyn has had a fair deal at the hands of the press, in a way that the Labour party did when it was more to the centre, but then we generally have a rightwing press,” he said.

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