The new Conservative government has confirmed that their manifesto pledge to double access to free childcare will be presented as the basis of their Childcare Bill.
The bill will also include a requirement for local authorities to publish more information about the provision of childcare in their region.
The policy was confirmed during the Queen’s speech today at the State Opening of Parliament, and if passed into law will grant the increase in entitlement to all families where both parents are working.
The Government says the bill would help 600,000 children a year from 2017. It is intended that the £350m-a-year cost would be funded through reductions in tax relief on pension contributions.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the measure aimed to stop Britain becoming a ‘two-speed country’, where only some people could afford childcare.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said:
“While we welcome confirmation today that the government will aim to pass its commitment to greater access to free childcare into law, as it will go some way to addressing the challenging cost of childcare for families; extending the free entitlement will only address the fundamental problems caused by under investment in childcare if the real cost of free entitlement delivery is covered for childcare settings.
It’s no secret that many childcare professionals continue to struggle with cuts in local authority funding for free early education places as well as reduced support and training from their local authority. Without a guarantee of further investment, providers will increasingly fight to deliver the high quality service that children deserve, and be deterred from growing their businesses to provide these extra places.”