Why has a general election been called now, and what this could mean for working parents

What each party has said will happen to your childcare bills

Rishi Sunak giving a speech in Downing Street
(Image credit: Jeff Gilbert/Alamy)

Wondering why Rishi Sunak has called an election now, and how this could affect working parents? We decode what each party has said about the future of funded childcare and what the Prime Minister's reasons could be for setting the surprising election date.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made some controversial announcements recently, including plans to reform how schools approach the concept of gender identity. News that the government were increasing school fines has also been met with negative reactions, particularly considering school absence and lateness is often related to psychological and emotional reasons - parents being fined, prosecuted and imprisoned for being physically unable to get their children to school should be supported, not vilified. 

Many have been left even more surprised by Rishi Sunak's announcement to call a general election. Taking place on Thursday, July 4, the election is thought to have been called due to Sunak's conviction that the economy has stabilised following the war-related cost of living crisis. With the belief his party has seen the country back into economic stability, he could be relying on the public seeing the Conservatives as a party to trust, thus re-electing them. 

Other political observers believe the election has been called to bring an element of surprise. It had originally been thought Sunak would wait as long as possible to set a date for one - possibly holding off until October or November. Envisioning prospects for his party are unlikely to change in that long length of time, calling a surprise election could make him appear sure of re-election, instilling confidence in the public. This could also give him a head start on a strong campaign, getting ahead of Kier Starmer's Labour Party.

What could a general election mean for working parents?

In a post shared to Instagram, Pregnant Then Screwed outlined what each party has suggested will be their focus when it comes to funded childcare - it should be noted intentions are only currently known for what will take place in England. According to the charity, this is what to expect:

  • If the Liberal Democrats are elected, they've promised to deliver free, full-time childcare for all children from the age of two, and those with working parents from nine months.
  • They will also review payment rates for childcare providers, to ensure they genuinely reflect the costs of delivering high-quality childcare and early years education.
  • If Labour are elected, they've promised to keep the current scheme of funded hours in place, until they've undertaken a full review of childcare in England.
  • This should mean 15 funded hours of childcare for all children from nine months will go ahead as planned in September.
  • If the Green Party are elected, they've committed to free universal childcare from ages one until five, overseen by a minister for childcare.
  • If the Conservative Party is re-elected, they've committed to delivering their funded hours scheme, giving eligible parents access to 30 funded hours of childcare during term time- this is for children aged nine months and upwards, and begins in September, 2025. 

For those wondering which way the election looks set to go, opinion polls currently point to Labour holding a significant lead over the Conservatives. Political observers suggest Labour could come to power with a comfortable majority. 

However, the success of each party's campaign could alter this prediction. Labour will focus their campaign around the concept of "Change", and will put the National Health Service at the forefront of public service priorities - waiting lists have rocketed under a Conservative government. 

Both parties will offer migration policies, with Sunak promising to clamp down on it, while Labour disagrees with his plans to send those entering the country illegally to Rwanda, branding the move costly and impractical.

New data highlights the main disparities when it comes to parents requesting flexible working, while another study reveals just how good working parents are for business. If you've taken time out of work to raise your children, a new online service could help you maximise your state pension pot.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.