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Merkel government boosts child care spots


German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, which faces elections in September, said Thursday it had reached a family-friendly milestone in boosting the number of child care places.

More than 800,000 creche spots for under-three-year-olds would be available in the year starting August 1, surpassing a government target by about 30,000, said Family Minister Kristina Schroeder.

She however conceded that regional differences meant there would be shortfalls in city areas that have strong demand in part because on average they have more working mothers than rural areas.

The opposition Social Democrats accused the government of presenting "embellished figures" and the minister of "wishful thinking".

Social policies have featured heavily in the campaign battle ahead of the September 22 election, in which polls give Merkel's coalition a lead over the centre-left opposition.

Germany, a fast-ageing society with a low birthrate, has been trying to make it easier for families to have children while both parents keep working.