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Cameron: It will 'take time' to get childcare plans right

David Cameron Credit: ITV/This Morning

The Prime Minister has admitted it will "take time" to get the new childcare plans right.

Speaking on This Morning, David Cameron said: "It's going to take time to get this right because obviously we need an expansion of the childcare sector, we need more nurseries, more of these places to open so we're working with them to expand."

He added: "We need them to expand so we're going to start talking to them immediately about what's the best way of making sure that they're being properly paid for, the childcare that they provide, so that we can expand the number of places."

Free childcare 'already grossly underfunded'

The government grant to childcare providers for the existing 15 hours a week of free childcare is already "grossly underfunded", the Pre-School Learning Alliance has said.

Neil Leitch, Pre-School Learning Alliance chief executive Credit: PA Wire

Research for the charity suggests the government's plan to double this childcare would cost around £195bn a year, but funding at current rates amounts to £1.7bn - a potential shortfall of £250m.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said: "Simply raising funding rates by an arbitrary amount won't be enough - it is absolutely crucial that the Government ensures that the hourly rate of funding actually covers the cost of delivering funded places. Anything less risks destabilising a childcare system that is already struggling to stay afloat."

He warned an increasing number of providers may withdraw from the free childcare system if more money is not made available.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Leitch added: "There are many nurseries that can't physically extend their number of hours. They may operate in a church hall or community centre. Nobody has considered whether in fact they will be able to offer the 30 hours."

Read more: Free childcare trials fast-tracked to 2016

Charity: Political parties 'need to invest in families'

All three main political parties "need to invest in families" as they are the UK's most valuable asset, a children's charity has warned.

Anne Longfield, 4Children's chief executive, said the family vote would be "key" in the 2015 general election and called on MPs to improve childcare.

All the main political parties know that the family vote will be key at the ballot box next year.

With half of people calling for more support for children and families, it is clear that the scale of ambition needs to radically change.

Families are looking to all the parties to set out what they will do to make Britain great for children and families.

It is time for a real shift of ambition to give children and families the support they need to flourish. Families are our country's most valuable asset and political parties need to invest in them.

– Anne Longfield
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