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86,000 children worse off under Nats - Maharey

86,000 children will be worse off – Maharey

There is no getting around the fact that National’s plan to axe 20 hours free quality early childhood education will hurt at least 86,000 children, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says.

Mr Maharey said that, despite Bill English’s attempts to fudge the issue, this is actually a conservative estimate.

“There are already around 86,000 children aged 3 and 4 in community-based early childhood education services.

“That doesn’t even take into account the fact that this government is providing funding to help set up more centres and expand existing ones, in order to meet demand as parents opt for community-based services with qualified teachers as a result of our generous offer of 20 hours free education.

“These 86,000 children will definitely get 20 free hours under Labour and even National accepts that this group will be worse off if this policy was replaced with their one-dollar-in-three tax deduction.

“The maths is simple. If you need 40 hours education and care, then you’re much better off getting half of it free than having to send in all your receipts to get a third of it refunded.

“What’s more, the children of beneficiaries will miss out completely. National doesn’t care about these kids.

“Labour on the other hand is committed to quality early childhood education that is accessible and affordable for all New Zealand families, not just a select few.

“That’s why we’re increasing funding for Early Childhood Education by $152m over the next 4 years; that’s why we’ve extended childcare subsidies to 40% more children to help pay for whichever quality service parents choose to use; and that’s why from 1 August this year parents of pre-school children using approved care in their own homes will be able to access the childcare subsidy as well.

“Meanwhile, today’s announcement sets the tone for National’s tax policies – give with one hand, and take away with the other," Steve Maharey said.

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