Department for Work and Pensions
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Government brings forward plans to double free childcare for working families

David Cameron will announce plans to double free childcare for working parents, with some families set to benefit as early as next year.

  • Parents set to benefit from 30 hours of free childcare, with rollout to start from 2016 – a year earlier than planned.
  • Childcare funding rates to increase, with review promised before summer.
  • New government taskforce will introduce changes as soon as possible.

The Childcare Bill, introduced tomorrow (2 June 2015) will double free childcare available for all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week – available to up to 600,000 families and worth around £5,000 a year – including the £2,500 they can already save from existing free childcare offers.

And, in a move to underline the government’s commitment to support working families with the costs of childcare, plans are being drawn up to introduce the changes for some families a year earlier than planned, with pilots in some areas offering 30 hours worth of free places from September 2016.

On top of this, the government is also today committing to increase the average childcare funding rates paid to providers (the hourly funding provided for each free place): the Department for Education is set to begin a review before summer, overseen by Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah.

A new government taskforce, headed by Minister of State for Employment Priti Patel, will also work to drive forward the plans and ensure not a moment is wasted in passing the benefits onto working families.

Prime Minister David Cameron:

My message is clear: this government is on the side of working people, helping them get on and supporting them at every stage of life.

That is exactly why we are pressing ahead with these reforms, so that not a moment is lost in getting on with the task – going further than ever before to help with childcare costs, helping hardworking families and giving people the opportunity to get into work.

Minister for Employment, Priti Patel said:

We are doing more than any other government to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare for working families.

Having the right childcare in place will mean more parents can have genuine choice, security and peace of mind when it comes to being able to support their family.

Today’s announcement will mean there is now more support than ever before to help with the costs of childcare and will build on the steps already taken by this government to help families across the country.

More than a million families are already benefiting from 15 hours week of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, alongside around 160,000 of the most disadvantaged 2 year olds. The government has also already legislated to introduce tax free childcare, worth up to £2,000 per child per year, within this Parliament.

Notes to editors

  1. The legislation being introduced to Parliament would place a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to ensure 30 hours of childcare is provided to 3 and 4 year olds of working families during term-time. This includes the 15 hours currently available and the additional 15 hours.

  2. Further details will be set out in regulations, but will make clear that both parents should be in work or a lone parent who is in work. Currently around 600,000 families in England have 3 or 4 year old children with both parents in work. This number will change over time according to employment choices. Numbers of families taking up the enhanced entitlement will depend on parental choices: many of the 4 year olds will be in reception classes at school.

  3. It is important that the hourly rate for the childcare entitlement strikes the right balance between being fair for providers and delivering value for money to the taxpayer. To get this right, we will conduct a review of funding for the entitlement.

4 . Support for childcare put in place by the last government includes:

  • funding 15 hours a week of free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds – an increase from 12.5 hours, saving families an additional £425 a year per child
  • funding 15 hours a week of free childcare for all disadvantaged 2 year olds – for 40% of all 2 year olds, saving families over £2,500 a year per child
  • legislating for tax-free childcare which will save around 1.9 million working families with children under age 12 up to £2,000 per child per year
  • increasing child tax credit entitlement up to £2,780 per year for families with 1 child – that’s £480 more a year than 2010

View details of current free childcare entitlements for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

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