Darren asks the Government about childcare provision

Free childcare has the potential to boost parents’ flexibility. Darren asked the Government about introducing free childcare provision for all two year olds and younger children.

Darren Jones,Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of (a) the cost to the public purse of increasing free childcare provision to all two year old and younger children, and (b) the economic effect of increasing free childcare provision.

Nadhim Zahawi, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government has no plans to extend the early learning for two-year-olds programme. However, the government does have a range of offers available to support parents with care for children under the age of 12 (or children with disabilities until the age of 17). The government is already supporting working parents of two-year-olds with middle or higher incomes. We have also introduced Tax-Free Childcare, which will be available to around 1.5 million households to help pay for childcare costs. Parents can also claim up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit.

In September 2017, the government introduced 30 hours free childcare for working parents, which gave parents who qualified an additional 15 hours a week of free childcare.

In September 2018, the department published an independent year one evaluation of 30 hours[1]. The evaluation showed that 30 hours is making a real difference to family finances with the majority of parents reporting that they had more money to spend (78%).

Over a quarter of mothers said, they had increased their hours and more than one in ten (15%) stated they would not be working without the extended hours. These effects were stronger for lower income families.

The study also showed that over half (51%) of providers increased staff hours or number of staff to deliver extended hours.