Monday, September 22, 2008

Brown's Nursery Rhymes

Gordon Brown made the 'eye-catching promise' over the weekend that children would be given free nursery places from the age of two onwards.

But from the social policy side, it's hardly a radical proposal - the One Wales Government is already committed to free part-time nursery places for 2 year olds in greatest need as part of our commitment to reducing child poverty, so yet another example of Brown filching a policy from a more progressive government.

The difference is that while we consider this an important aim as part of the One Wales agreement, Brown is unwilling to commit to a time or a figure for supporting this plan in England - and with it the financial spin off that results from the Barnett Formula, money that would come in handy not just for us to introduce our plans for nursery places, but also to provide support for the Foundation Phase of education introduced this year.

There's a worry at the back of my mind, though.

As we've seen from Budget after Budget, what Brown gives in one hand, he takes with the other, and having been reading James Purnell's welfare to work plans, you can only wonder how much time would elapse between free nursery places for two year olds in England and a new, radical idea from the Department from Work and Pensions to 'convince' their parents to head back to work, now that they don't have to look after their children.

Makes you think, doesn't it? And with this government's record, you wouldn't rule it out either, would you?

Well...if we thought for a minute they'd still be there to put these plans into action.

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