Following last week's announcement that the Government are bringing forward plans to double free childcare for working parents, we have received a number of enquiries from PACEY members. Much of the detail of what the policy means is still to be worked out. We hope you find the following summary of what we know so far helpful.
Childcare Bill: the basics
- The Childcare Bill proposes that three and four-year-old children of working parents should receive 30 hours of free childcare for 38 weeks per year, doubling the current entitlement of 15 hours per week. The Bill currently applies to parents in England only.
- The Government has also announced that the Childcare Minister, Sam Gyimah, will be leading a funding review into the childcare funding rates paid to providers. PACEY has welcomed the funding review as we know that the current cost of providing a free early education place is not covered by the fee most providers receive from their local authority.
When will this be available?
- Pilots will run in some areas offering 30 hours worth of free places from September 2016 – we do not yet know which areas will be included in the pilots. It is expected that the policy will then be rolled out in 2017.
- The Bill will go through a number of stages – and then receive royal assent before it becomes law. It will have its Second Reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 16 June. It will then be scrutinised by parliamentary committees when the detail of the Bill will be worked out before being passed to the House of Commons. At that point PACEY will be invited to respond formally to the consultation which will be our chance to put forward the views of our members about what the impact of the Bill will mean for them.
Will the additional 15 hours be available to all three and four year olds?
- No. The Bill states that parents must be working, though it is not yet clear how many hours they will need to work to access the provision. Eligible parents must also have an annual household income of less than £150,000.
- The current provision of 15 hours will still be available to all 3- and 4-year-olds, regardless of whether their parents work or not.
Is there anything else I need to know about in the Bill?
- The Bill also aims to help parents to access information about childcare available in their area, as well as other services that may help them to meet their childcare needs. Local authorities will be required to publish information about available childcare and we will be working closely with the Department for Education to ensure that the interests of our members are considered.
How can I share my views?
- Liz Bayram, PACEY’s Chief Executive, and Victoria Flint, Director of Communications, have been invited to early meetings with the Childcare Minister and other officials responsible for both the funding review and taking forward details of the Childcare Bill. Do follow the progress of these meetings through social media at @veflint and @LizBayram_PACEY and via PACEY's main channel @PACEYchildcare.
- We will be seeking your views on the specific proposals as soon as we have information to share - we look forward to hearing what you have to say once we have further details.
- In the meantime, please follow our social media channels and our website for updates on progress.