Brown announces expansion of childcare programme

Helping young working families will be a central plank of Labour policy with the prime minister set to announce a £1 billion package to provide free nursery places for all two year olds.

The package is part of Gordon Brown’s pledge to improve social mobility – something he is keen to put at the heart of government policy and which is likely to be one of the key themes of his speech to the Labour conference later this week.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Brown says: “I think more choice for women and for families of the next stage of our policy reforms.

“What I want us to do is create thousands more nursery places not just for three and four year olds but also for two year olds. This is not a government that walks away but a government that’s on the side of hard working families, helping them to climb the ladder”.

The plan however is not expected to be an instant one but rather rolled out over the next ten years. Nor according to the Sunday Telegraph will it be used to coerce mothers back to work that do not want to go. Quite how the scheme will be funded is as yet unknown.

Analysts see the prime minister’s performance at the conference as crucial in stemming a rebellion within the party against his leadership and important in boosting the party’s approval ratings.

It comes as a poll published in the Sunday Times of 1,200 Labour party members with 53 per cent of respondents agreeing that the head of government was indecisive and dithering while only 34 per cent of those interviewed said he had an exciting vision for the country.