LABOUR CONFERENCE: Candidate tells conference of Norwich childcare “crisis”

Labour candidate for Norwich North, Jess Asato. Picture: Denise Bradley

Labour candidate for Norwich North, Jess Asato. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Labour candidate Jessica Asato warned the Labour Party Conference of a 'crisis' in childcare, as she highlighted figures which she claimed show there were 1,000 less places in the East.

The candidate taking on Chloe Smith in Norwich North, who is expecting her first child in December, told the main Labour conference floor that there was a baby boom - joking that she was adding to it.

She said that one in five parents had been forced to call in sick over the summer to look after their kids and said the child minder costs were up 44pc in the last four years in the East of England.

She told the main conference hall: 'There's a crisis in childcare – it's harder than ever to find a childcare place – we're down a thousand places in the East of England. And we're in the middle of a baby boom. As you might have noticed, I'm adding to it!

'Our Children's Centres are being hollowed out. Open in name, but services stretched to breaking in point.'

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She claimed that Labour's pledge to introduce 25 hours of free childcare for parents with three and four year olds would benefit 49,000 children in the East of England.

It will make the choice between work and caring for children a real choice, helping 16,000 more mums get back to work or work extra hours in the Eastern Region.

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This doesn't just make economic sense – putting money back into the Treasury as women go back to work.

Ms Asato accused Ms Smith ignoring the daily struggle families face with childcare in Norwich North.

But Ms Smith said: 'I've been visiting many nurseries, children's centres and pre-schools as well as talking to lots of mums and dads about childcare in Norwich. I'm doing detailed work in Parliament for my constituents to bring in tax-free childcare, which will make childcare more affordable. That will take pressure off household budgets in Norwich, helping families be more financially secure and able to plan for the future.'

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