New Clause 1 — Childcare provision

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 8th April 2014.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Conservative, South Northamptonshire 7:00 pm, 8th April 2014

I do not, but I can tell the hon. Lady that I have been lobbying the Minister, and telling him that children’s centres could play a fantastic and very appropriate role if they became childminder agencies. I think that the support, encouragement, training and quality control that they could offer would be good for childminders, and it would certainly be good for families.

What else have the Government done for families? They have done an enormous amount. Child care tax credit has been given a huge boost: a contribution of up to £2,000 per child will greatly help families to make the right child care choices. Even more significant is the increase in the tax-free personal allowance, which has put an enormous amount of money back into the hands of taxpayers, and which will benefit working families of all shapes and sizes. As was pointed out by my hon. Friend Dr Coffey, the fuel duty freeze has made the cost of living for families lower than it would have been under the Opposition.

But what have we really, fundamentally done for our children—the children who are at the heart of everything that we do? We have paid down the deficit by a third, which is no inconsiderable feat. Why is that so important? As a result of the financial crisis and the Labour Government’s overspending, we put ourselves in a position in which we stole not just from our children, but from our grandchildren. We mortgaged their future. This Government have paid down the deficit significantly, with the intention of clearing it altogether so that we can start to reduce the debts that our children and grandchildren would otherwise be paying. We have been able to keep the cost of borrowing down, because we had a credible plan for returning strength to our economy. That has enabled all families with mortgages to keep down their borrowing costs, and has been a huge boost to families that is never talked about.

What is the payback? Our economy is the fastest-growing in the developed world. Wages are rising faster than they have done for seven years—that was announced today—and the private sector has created 1.6 million new jobs. That means that well over 1.5 million new families are finding work, and are able to meet the needs of their household budgets.