It was the manifesto promise that many believe played a crucial role in the Conservatives election win – the pledge to provide ‘free childcare’ for three and four year olds.


Yet last week, figures obtained by the Early Years Alliance revealed the government had  “knowingly underfunded the childcare sector in England” over the past decade, suggesting the parent-pleasing pledge was never anything more than an empty promise. The documents, released following a protracted two-year Freedom of Information battle, also suggest ministers knew funding rates were less than two thirds of what would be needed to fully fund the scheme.


For June OSullivan, CEO of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), the findings come as “no surprise.”


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