Free Childcare and Money for Poor to Tackle Class Divide

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Byline: PAUL WAUGH

FREE childcare for deprived youngsters and new laws to narrow the gap between rich and poor were unveiled by ministers today as they vowed to end Britain's "class divide".

Gordon Brown was joined by several Cabinet ministers to launch a package of measures aimed at boosting social mobility and unlocking the talent of the most disadvantaged children.

The New Opportunities White Paper includes free nursery places for the poorest two-yearolds and a new legal duty requiring all public bodies to take background into account when delivering services.

All "high potential" children from low-income backgrounds will be given mentors and other help in secondary school to get them into university, with leading academics offering summer schools and placements.

To help children avoid poverty, "vulnerable" pregnant women will be given a dedicated family nurse for the first two years of their child's life. Some 35,000 new apprenticeships will also be created to help working-class teenagers secure skilled jobs.

The legal requirement for Whitehall departments and local councils to consider "the persistent inequality of social class" is expected to be tacked onto the Equalities Bill. …