In the past week I have debunked another Tory claim – that they are delivering 30 hours of free childcare to all working families.
Picture this: You spend hours navigating a complex, convoluted and needlessly frustrating Government form to claim what you were promised, only to be told you do not earn enough to be eligible.
Yes, that’s right – too poor to claim.
Unbelievable as it may sound, this frustrating nightmare is what parents are subjected to as they try and take advantage of childcare policies which are supposed to help families.
When the Conservatives boasted promises of 30 hours’ free childcare for all three and four-year-old children of working parents, they didn’t tell you the small print – that if your wages are below the minimum threshold, or if only one parent is in work, your child will miss out.
This means that if you are over 25 but are earning less than £125.28 a week, you’re out of luck.
This leaves thousands of parents who work part-time or on zero-hours contracts frozen out of the scheme.
As families know, once you have the childcare, you can increase your hours or find other work – but it’s not possible when you risk being hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
We revealed last week that more than half a million children fail to qualify for the 30 hours’ free childcare – over half of all three and four-year-olds.
A scheme designed to improve social mobility is excluding the very children who could benefit the most.
It’s yet another example of yet another hollow Tory promise.
On a far brighter note, in the past week I’ve had the pleasure of officially opening two local projects that have come into being thanks to the hard work, tenacity and determination of the local communities.
Firstly, I was invited along to St Patrick’s Catholic Primary to cut the ribbon on a new storyland area at the Birstall school.
The tranquil retreat at the edge of the playground was designed with input from the children themselves, and the result is outstanding.
Thanks to their imagination, a democratic process and the fundraising efforts of the school, the PFA and the community, they now have a beautiful playground retreat they can all be proud of.
In the same day I saw yet another example of community cohesion in the shape of the fantastic new changing facilities at Mount Cricket Club in Batley.
The local club have wasted no time in pulling together to replace their old pavilion after it was ravaged by a fire which caused hundreds and thousands of pounds worth of damage.
I was also incredibly excited to see their vision for their new ‘Field of dreams’ ground redevelopment which could serve Batley and Spen for generations to come.
Sport is such a vital part of community life and Mount Cricket Club are dedicated to giving everyone the opportunity to get involved.