A debate secured by a Plymouth MP provided an opportunity to discuss the forthcoming expansion of entitlements to free childcare and how the Government is ensuring there will be enough nursery provision to meet demand.
There are currently three childcare entitlements:
• 15 hours universal entitlement for all three and four-year-olds.
• 15 hours entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.
• Extended 30 hours entitlement for three and four-years-olds of eligible working parents.
In Spring Budget 2023, the Government made the largest ever investment in childcare, taking investment from £4 billion each year on the existing childcare offer, to £8 billion in total by 2027-28. This will save eligible working parents up to an average of £6,500 per year.
This included expanding the support on offer by providing 30 hours a week of free childcare for 38 weeks a year, for eligible working parents of children from the end of maternity/paternity leave to the start of primary school. From April 2024, this new entitlement will be extended in stages.
The Department for Work and Pensions has also raised the amount working parents on Universal Credit can claim for their childcare – up to £951 a month for one child, and £1,630 for two or more children.
Kevin Foster MP said: "These changes are creating a large new demand for nursery places and the debate was a chance to explore both he challenges and push the Government on what is being done to ensure there is capacity to meet them."