The Mush guide to the general election

7aca07d8 4eb7 4339 b48b 9a6613849757

Cat Neilan on what the main parties are promising for young families...

In case you missed it, we’re in the midst of yet another election. But how are the main parties seeking to win the mum vote? Whether you have a strong and stable toddler or a baby against Brexit, here’s what you need to know about the main policies that affect parents ahead of June 8th.

Maternity/paternity leave

If you’ve struggled to get by on the current statutory rates of pay during maternity leave, Labour’s pledge to “move towards” extending pay to 12 months might sound good. Both Labour and the Lib Dems have promised to double paternity leave to four weeks, with Labour also saying it will increase pay during that period.

Childcare

Everyone agrees the current situation is expensive and confusing. Labour says it will offer 30 hours free childcare to two-year-olds until they go to school, making it available to all families, not just those in work. The Lib Dems plan to extend the weekly 15-hour free childcare to all two-year-olds as well as the children of working families from the end of their parental leave. Under the Conservatives, new nurseries will open alongside every new school. The Greens have pledged free universal childcare for all children under seven, while Ukip want to allow parents to drop existing restrictions around which providers parents can use their free hours with.

Schools

The Conservatives say they will put together a new £4bn fund to stop cuts to schools, and promises to build at least 100 new free schools each year. Theresa May has also made lifting the ban on opening more selective (aka grammar) schools a key part of her platform. The Tories also want all 11-year-olds to be able to recite their times table off by heart. They will drop the existing free lunch scheme in favour of a free breakfast.

Meanwhile, Labour will extend the free lunches to every primary school child, something it will fund by charging VAT on private school fees. The party also wants to create a new ‘National Education Service’, which will ensure education ‘from cradle to grave’. Jeremy Corbyn has promised to lift the one per cent pay cap for teachers, reduce class sizes, and also introduce an educational maintenance allowance for 16-to-18-year olds.

The Lib Dems will also lift the teachers’ pay cap. Tim Farron’s party also plans to give schools a £7bn budget boost, scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools and give girls free sanitary products at school to end “period poverty”.

The Green party says it will protect real term spending per student, abolish SATS and reduce class sizes.

Ukip is promising a grammar school in “every town”, wants to end sex education at schools and will require each school to have a “science leader”.

Special needs

Ukip and the Greens have both pledged to ensure every child with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND) has access to a mainstream education. Labour says it will embed SEND “more substantially” into teacher training.

University

The Conservatives will not scrap tuition fees, but has said those universities charging £9,000 or more must sponsor free schools or academies. New teachers will not have to repay their student loans while in the profession.

Labour has promised to scrap tuition fees completely, while the Lib Dems have promised to restore maintenance grants for university students.

The Greens will also scrap tuition fees and invest more in adult education. Ukip has said it will not subsidise tuition fees for courses which do not lead at least two thirds of students into a graduate level job within five years after graduation. It will also stop offering loans to EU students post-Brexit.

@catneilan @mushmums