Latest Public Sector News

02.09.13

40% of families to receive free childcare

Free childcare will be extended to 260,000 families next year, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced. From today, 130,000 two-year-olds from poorer families will receive 15 hours of childcare per week.

Three and four year olds are also entitled to 15 hours of early education per week for 38 weeks a year.

In 2014/15 funding for the scheme will be increased from £534m to £760 to include children from families on less than £16,190 a year on working tax credits. This will cover 40% of two-year-olds in the UK.

Clegg said: “From today, if you're a parent on a low income with a two-year-old in the family, you'll qualify for up to 15 hours a week of free early education for your child. This free support is focused on helping the families that need it most. That's around 130,000 two-year-olds – one in every five two-year-olds.

“From this time next year, we will extend that helping hand even further, doubling the number of youngsters getting a brighter start in life.

“All the evidence shows that if you take two children - two five-year-olds hanging up their coats next to each other on the first day of school - the poorer child will already be behind their better-off classmate before a single lesson has been taught.

“Without this help, children suffer and the whole class suffers as teachers have to focus more of their efforts on children who are frustrated and left behind through no fault of their own.”

But Anand Shukla, head of the national charity the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “We are concerned that the loss of nursery provision in children's centres is impacting on local authorities' ability to find sufficient places for the offer.

“Cost savings have driven nursery closures and this approach reduces capacity in the system, which will damage government hopes of meeting its targets for provision of childcare for two-year-olds.”

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