'Robotic' Rishi Sunak Confronted By Mother Over Rising Costs Of Childcare

Rishi Sunak speaks to parents during a visit to Aldersyde Day Nursery in Hartlepool.
Rishi Sunak speaks to parents during a visit to Aldersyde Day Nursery in Hartlepool.PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has been accused of being “robotic” and “repeating a script” as he was questioned by a mother about the government’s childcare plan.

The prime minister was speaking to parents during a visit to the Aldersyde Day Nursery in Hartlepool as the first families in England benefited from 15 hours of taxpayer-funded care for two-year-olds.

One parent, who has two children at the nursery, aged two and three, questioned whether “the system has got the foundations right”, pointing out capacity issues and how high nursery fees often hit families after they have struggled financially during maternity leave.

The exchange was captured by Tom Sheldrick, political correspondent for ITV News Tyne Tees.

She said: “There’s a lot of costs going up and up and up. And then also the fear is that when you’re putting these systems in place that nurseries are struggling.

“My fear is that we’ll lose another nursery in the town because the system isn’t, doesn’t feel, or certainly the information that’s coming out, it doesn’t feel like the system has got the foundations right.”

She continued saying “the first two years has been expensive. And coming in from maternity leave that maternity pay is quite low.

“You’re already paying off that money to come into a job and then pay, what, £1,800 a month for two kids.”

Few thought Sunak dealt with the exchange very well – an ominous sign for the Tory general election campaign and the daily interactions with voters.

When he responded, Sunak said: “That gap is what this expansion will fix. Obviously we’ve had for three- and four- year olds, so now we’ll go down to two- year olds and then to nine months old.

“So that entire gap from maternity leave until your little one starts school, that will then all be there and the support will be there, which will be good. And your point is right, as well, that we need to take the time to invest in the sector to expand places because it’s such a big change.”

His interrogator apparently took to X to say: “It’s not just about getting funded hours, it’s about getting the foundations right for the childcare issue to be fully resolved and a sustainable model in place.”