(asked on 19th December 2022) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps to increase the number of hours of free childcare to which three and four-year-olds are entitled.

Answered by
Claire Coutinho Portrait
Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
This question was answered on 12th January 2023

The department is not currently planning to extend the existing entitlement hours. Improving the cost, choice, and availability of childcare for working families is important for the department, and we are committed to encouraging families to use the government-funded support that they are entitled to.

The department recognises that childcare can be a significant portion of a family budget, and so we are promoting the financial support that is available to help parents with childcare costs through the Childcare Choices campaign. Childcare Choices aims to raise parents' awareness of the schemes that exist to support them and encourage providers to become eligible to offer them. The Childcare Choices website brings together all the government support available to offset the costs of childcare, and can be found here:

In addition to the universal 15 hours of free early education entitlement available to all three and four-year-olds, the department also offers working parents of three and four-year-olds an additional 15 hours of free childcare (also known as 30 hours free childcare) if they earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum/living wage, and under £100,000 per year.

The department also offers support outside of the entitlements. Tax-Free Childcare is available for working parents of children aged 0-11, or up to 17 for eligible disabled children. This can save parents up to £2,000 per year, or up to £4,000 for eligible children with disabilities, and has the same income criteria as 30 hours free childcare.

Additionally, working parents on Universal Credit may also be eligible for help with up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit Childcare. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children aged 0-16.

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