LISTEN: Jeremy Corbyn unable to spell out how much Labour childcare policy will cost in painful radio interview

Posted On: 
30th May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn faced fresh embarrassment today when he failed to spell out how much Labour's plans to extend free childcare would cost.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
PA Images

The Labour leader fumbled with his iPad and asked to return to the issue later when probed on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour.

Labour wants to offer the parents of two, three and four-year-olds universal access to 30 hours of free childcare a week.

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Asked by the show's presenter Emma Barnett how much it would cost, Mr Corbyn said: "It would cost um... It would obviously cost a lot."

As the interview went on Mr Corbyn left long silences and asked: "I'll give you the figure in a moment... Can we come back to this?"

But asked whether his failure to spell out the costings spoke to the lack of trust in Labour on economic issues he insisted: "All of our manifesto is fully costed and examined."

He added: "The important thing is all children get a chance to grow up together at the moment we have a system which separates out."

Mr Corbyn's gaffe comes after Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott suffered a similar moment on police costings in a radio interview earlier this month. 

Labour say over a million families will benefit from the party’s plans on childcare. 

As it stands, all three and four year olds, as well as around 40% of two-year-olds, are entitled to 15 hours of free early education per week.

The Conservatives have legislated to extend this to 30 hours for working parents of three and four-year-olds.

But Labour are proposing to spend an extra £5bn a year on childcare than the Tories by the end of the next parliament and pledged to spend £2.7bn on nursery buildings by 2022.

The party say their plans will help mothers re-enter in the labour market, and to “bridge the gap between maternity leave and full-time schooling in the long run.”

They add that the current system is “difficult to navigate” while “many providers refuse to accept children claiming their free hours”.


Mr Corbyn said the reforms would halt a system that is currently “holding back” families.

"The Labour party believes every child, no matter what their background, deserves a good start in life, and that childcare costs shouldn’t be a barrier for parents who want to go back to work,” he said.

“High quality childcare can transform a child’s life chances and make it much easier for parents to work.

"Labour will roll out 30 hours of free childcare a week to all two to four-year-olds to give all our children the best possible start in life, as part of our plan to build a country for the many, not the few.”

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “The Conservatives’ 2015 promise to provide parents 30 free hours of childcare a week has unravelled, as they have failed to give the policy the funding it needs.

"Too many parents have been let down, unable to go back to work due to the cost of childcare”.


Elsewhere in the Women's Hour interview, Mr Corbyn seemed to be unaware that he is honorary vice-president of CND - a position bestowed on him by the anti-nuclear campaign group in 2015.

"I’m a member of CND. I don’t think I’m a vice-president... I resigned from those positions when I became leader of the party," he said.

He also refused to answer four times when asked if he would resign as Labour leader if - as the opinion polls suggest - the Conservatives win the election.