You may have heard that the chancellor has announced some changes to childcare funding. It can all sound a little confusing so here is what the government announced:
We are helping parents with childcare so they can return to work more easily via a range of new measures.
Increasing childcare support:
- Working parents in England will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare per week, for 38 weeks of the year, from when their child is 9 months old to when they start school.
- This will be rolled out in stages:
- From April 2024, all working parents of 2-year-olds can access 15 hours per week
- From September 2024, all working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years old can access 15 hours per week
- From September 2025 all working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years old can access 30 hours free childcare per week
- Where parents need childcare for more than 38 weeks a year, they are able to spread their free hours entitlement over a higher number of weeks.
- The government will also substantially uplift the hourly rate paid to providers to deliver existing free hours offers. The government will provide £204m of additional funding this year, increasing to £288m by 2024-25. This funding is additional to the £4.1 billion that the government will provide by 2027-28 to facilitate the expansion of the new free hours.
- The government will also change the staff-to-child ratios for 2-year-olds, moving from 1:4 to 1:5 to align with Scotland and comparable countries, and will consult on further measures to give providers flexibility. The new ratios will give providers more flexibility, without compromising children’s safety or quality of provision. They will be optional, with no obligation on providers to adopt them.
- The government will also provide start-up grants for new childminders, including for those who choose to register with a childminder agency. Childminders who register with Ofsted will receive a start-up grant of £600, whereas those who register with a childminder agency will receive £1,200.
- The government will give local authorities in England £289 million over two academic years, starting in September 2024, to set up wraparound childcare provision in schools.
Universal Credit childcare paid up front:
- Paying parents on Universal Credit childcare support up-front when they are moving into work or increasing their hours, rather than in arrears meaning low-income families will find it easier to afford and it will help remove a barrier that many face when thinking about going back to work.
- Increasing Universal Credit childcare costs: We will increase the Universal Credit childcare cap to £951 for one child (up from £646) and £1,630 for two children (up from £1,108).