More details around the Government’s plans to double the amount of free childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds of working parents were revealed yesterday when the funding review was published and the Childcare Bill was debated in the House of Commons.
The key points which have emerged so far are:
- The national average funding rate paid to providers will increase by at least 30p an hour. For 3- and 4-year-olds, the new average rate will be £4.88 including the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP). The average 2-year-old rate will be £5.39.
- To qualify for the extended 30-hour entitlement, each parent will need to earn at least £107 per week and no more than £100,000 per year. Parents who do not work due to disability or substantial caring responsibilities will also be able to access the additional 15 hours. Eligibility will be checked by HMRC and be based on actual income earned. There will be a grace period so that if parents lose their jobs, they do not automatically lose their childcare entitlement.
- The Government will soon consult on an early years national funding formula. This will look at how to ensure local authorities pass on the majority of funding directly to providers and do not ‘top-slice’ funds. It will also consider how to best fund disadvantaged children and children with disabilities and special needs.
- An additional £50 million will be allocated to increasing the number of early years places, for example in the form of capital funding for schools and nurseries.
- Pilots in a number of local authorities are due to start in September 2016, and the extended entitlement will be rolled-out nationally in September 2017.
- Parents of school-aged children will be given the right to request wrap-around, school-based childcare. For example, breakfast clubs , after-school clubs or holiday care at their child’s school. The Department for Education will publish more information on this shortly.
Opposition MPs, who were not given a chance to see the funding review report before the debate on the Bill, reiterated their overall support for 30 hours of free childcare, but argued that it is still substantially underfunded and is at odds with the decreasing number of early years places and a lack of adequate childcare supply in a number of areas.
The next stage is for the Childcare Bill to be debated in more detail by a smaller number of interested MPS during the committee stage. This will take place between 8 and 15 December.
If you have any questions or concerns about the Childcare Bill or the funding review, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.