The £70,000 ‘childcare commission’ set up by Southwark’s Labour administration is "an expensive way to delay taking action on childcare costs", Liberal Democrat opposition councillors have said.

Details of the new commission, which was originally announced shortly before the local elections in May, were finally published last week with the names of five new commissioners made public.

Figures requested by Liberal Democrat councillors have also revealed that the commission will cost up to £70,000 in total, jointly paid for by Southwark and Lambeth councils.

The commission was hurriedly set up by Labour councillors in March after Southwark Liberal Democrats made extra free childcare hours one of their flagship commitments for the local elections. Liberal Democrat councillors also secured a vote on the issue at Council Assembly, with Labour backing their idea for free hours – however within a month the Labour administration reneged on the promise.

Commenting, Southwark Liberal Democrat spokesperson for children’s services James Okosun said:

“Labour complain about money being tight for council services, but they are able to find £70,000 to spend on yet another long-winded commission run by a Labour MP. If it is anything like the democracy commission or the housing commission, it will take up a lot of council resources and public money but ultimately be completely ignored.”

“The only reason Southwark Labour launched this commission is because they didn’t have an answer to Lib Dem policies on childcare before the local elections. It was basically set up as an expensive way to delay taking action on childcare costs.”

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