Today’s blog looks at the Government’s offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for working families.
Since September working parents have been entitled to 30 hours’ free childcare per week per child for three- and four-year-olds. This improved on the offer of 15 hours’ free childcare for all parents of three- and four-year-olds and is worth around £5,000 per child every year.
We pay local authorities an average hourly rate of £4.94, which is far higher than the national average average hourly cost of providing childcare to to three- and four-year-olds, which is £3.72 according to independent research. Since the launch of the offer, which followed successful pilots, hundreds of thousands of parents up and down the country have benefited.
On Sunday, a report in the Observer incorrectly sought to blame the free childcare offer for the closure of a number of nurseries, saying that as many as 1,000 nurseries have closed since 2015. Clearly, this is misleading as the policy only came into effect in September this year.
The fact is that the 30 hours offer is making a real difference to families. Independent evaluations of our early delivery areas show that 78 per cent of parents reported greater flexibility in their working life as a result of 30 hours; while nearly a quarter of mothers and one in 10 fathers reported they had been able to increase their working hours.
It's popular too – 93 per cent of the 216,000 codes generated for parents that have applied for the offer have been validated by a local authority or provider indicating those places have been taken up. We don’t expect 100 per cent of the codes to be validated because some parents will change their minds or their circumstances will change.
Children and Families Minister Robert Goodwill said:
We are determined to support as many families as possible with access to high-quality, affordable childcare, and earlier this year we fulfilled our promise to double the free childcare available to working parents to 30 hours a week, saving them up to £5,000 a year per child. Hundreds of thousands of hardworking families are already benefiting from that offer.
The 30 hours offer has been successfully delivered with over 216,000 codes generated for the autumn term, of which 93 per cent of these have been validated by a Local Authority.
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