Councils urged to propose free childcare ideas  

Councils and childcare providers are being urged to come forward with “innovative and flexible” ideas of how to deliver 30 weekly hours of free childcare from September 2016.

The move comes shortly after reviews as to how the sector could increase average funding rates paid to providers. The government is now calling on relevant bodies to put forward ideas of how to deliver the service.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan will be speaking to Rolls-Royce employees today about how the offer could work for them.

Education and childcare minister Sam Gyimah will join her on the visit, which forms part of a larger set of visitations to employers such as Legal & General, Deloitte and Hewlett-Packard.

Morgan said: “For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier to working parents and particularly mothers.

“Today, we’re calling on providers to tell us how they can offer innovative, high-quality childcare that helps parents return to work while keeping more of their hard-earned money in their back pocket.”

According to the Department for Education, the government forks out £5bn on childcare support – a £1bn increase from its spending in 2010.

More than 80% of the parents surveyed so far said they would take up the offer of free childcare if it were available now.

The measure will make every three and four-year-old with working parents eligible for 1,140 hours of childcare a year, which the department says is worth £5,000 per child every year.

The two-year-old offer includes 15 hours of childcare per week to 40% of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, adding up to £2,500 per child.

However figures released in July showed that half of disadvantaged English families with two-year-olds entitled to the service were not using it.

At the time, cllr David Simmons, of the LGA, said many early year providers opted to work with councils, and that parents were seeing the results “with more high quality provision becoming available”.

He added: “We could do so much more if some of the bureaucratic barriers preventing councils from using their expertise were lifted.”


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