Funding boost for historic free childcare

The Department for Education has announced a £1 billion funding boost for childcare, which will kickstart the delivery of historic new free childcare offers.

From April 2024, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will get a new offer of 15 free hours per week of free childcare. This will be increased to 30 free hours per week from September 2025.

The government is also extending the existing 30 free hours per week offer for three- and four-year-olds, to cover all working parents, regardless of their income. This funding boost will support the early years sector to deliver these new offers and will create an additional 200,000 childcare places.

The new free childcare offers will make it easier for parents to return to work or to increase their hours and will help to reduce the cost of childcare. For example, a working couple with two children aged two and four, who currently pay £1,200 per month for childcare, would save £600 per month under the new offers.

Providing much-needed support to the early years sector, which has been facing challenges in recent years, increased funding will be used to create more childcare places and will support providers to improve the quality of care.

Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“I know the cost of childcare can be a real struggle for parents and can become a barrier to work.

“That’s why we announced the largest ever expansion of free childcare at Spring Budget, and today we’re increased hourly funding rates to make sure the system is ready to deliver, including uplifting rates for a two-year-old by a third.

“These reforms will be transformative and ensure that we build a childcare system comparable to the best.”

What are the next steps?

The government will now work with local authorities and the early years sector to implement the new free childcare offers. Offers are expected to be rolled out in phases, with the first phase starting in April 2024.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, added:

“Today is a great step forward as we deliver on the largest ever expansion of childcare which will be transformational for working families and will help grow our economy.

“I want childcare to be truly affordable and available when and where parents need it.

“This initial investment of over £200 million will go a long way in supporting the fantastic early years sector to prepare for the expansion of free childcare hours available to parents next year.”

This funding boost for childcare is a significant investment in the early years sector. It will make it easier for parents to return to work or to increase their hours and will help to reduce the cost of childcare.

The new free childcare offers are a historic step forward, and they will make a real difference to the lives of families across the UK.


Image credit: iStock


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