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Lib Dems launch conference with plans for ‘flexible’ childcare and tutoring

Delegates have gathered in Bournemouth to debate and decide on a raft of policy ideas.

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School pupils

The Liberal Democrats will launch their autumn conference with proposals to ease the costs of childcare and improve education as they seek to win over Tory heartlands.

Delegates have gathered in Bournemouth to debate and decide on a raft of policy ideas which will form the blueprint for the party’s general election manifesto.

In a speech on Saturday, education spokeswoman Munira Wilson will outline plans for small-group tutoring to help pupils who have fallen behind in class to become a permanent fixture in England’s schools.

Schools, sixth forms and further education colleges would receive £390 million a year to offer 12-week tailored support to about 1.75 million children.

She will also outline a vision for childcare, which the Lib Dems want to make “flexible, affordable and fair” by reviewing the rates paid to providers for free hours to ensure they cover costs for high-quality services.

Munira Wilson
Munira Wilson (Steve Parsons/PA)

The party is planning to use the conference, which it believes could be its last before a general election expected next year, to agree on policies to woo so-called “blue wall” voters in southern England.

Tuesday will mark Sir Ed Davey’s first speech at a party conference since becoming leader in 2020, after last year’s was cancelled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Speaking to 5 News before the conference, Sir Ed said he is not interested in a pre-election pact with Labour to oust Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Nor is being a member of the EU, which the Lib Dems put at the heart of their last general election campaign, on the table any longer, he told the BBC.

“We want Britain to be back at the heart of Europe but we’re also realistic that’s going to take some time,” he said.

Instead the party is focusing on local issues, hoping to build on four by-election successes in the past two years and gains in traditionally Tory seats during the May local elections.

Proposals relating to health, the environment and the cost of living will feature prominently, including a pledge to keep the triple lock – which neither the Tories nor Labour have committed to retaining long term.

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