Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah has today (2 February 2016) announced £13 million, which will allow a group of councils to deliver 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds – a year ahead of schedule.
As a result, some working parents in Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will now benefit from the early offer from this September.
The extra hours of childcare are expected to make it easier for these parents to work and is another move designed to meet the government’s commitment to make work pay.
The government will also be looking at the issues that make it difficult for parents with particular challenges to access childcare, including special educational needs and disability.
The core group of councils will be supported by 25 others, who will look specifically at innovative ways of making sure childcare is accessible to as many parents as possible.Their experiences will then be used to support the full rollout in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement.
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah said:
I know how important childcare is from my own personal experience, and I couldn’t be more determined to make sure we give children the best start in life, support parents to work, and as a result, allow our country to prosper.
I’m pleased that we are investing in childcare, and I’m looking forward to seeing how working parents benefit from 30 hours’ free childcare, before we roll the offer out to the rest of the country.
All 3- and 4-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, and this is also extended to the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds. Last year, more than 1 million 3- and 4-year-olds, and 157,000 2-year-olds benefited from this offer.
The government is now going further and will provide an additional 15 free hours to working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds from September 2017 – delivering on a key manifesto pledge
As part of this government’s commitment there will be £1 billion extra per year by 2019 to 2020 to fund the extension of the free childcare entitlement.
The Department for Education will also be piloting a new contract with councils, and consulting on a fairer funding formula for the early years, to help ensure that local authorities are passing the money on to providers, and that providers are given a fair rate.