Government brings forward 30-hour childcare and funding review

David Cameron will today unveil plans for a funding review to start ‘before the summer’ in advance of a pilot of 30 hours of free childcare from September 2016.

The scheme to extend the free entitlement from 15 to 30 hours a week for households with all parents in work was a key pre-election pledge by the Conservatives, and has been brought forward to start a year earlier than planned in some areas.

Childcare minister Sam Gyimah will oversee a funding review of the entitlement, expected to start in the next few weeks.

Ministers are committed to raising the hourly funding rates paid to providers for the places for three- and four-year-olds.

Employment minister Priti Patel will lead a new Government taskforce to ensure the plans are brought in as soon as possible.

The Childcare Bill, introduced tomorrow, will double free childcare for all working parents of three- and four-year-olds to 30 hours a week.

The Government estimates that around 600,000 families in England will benefit from the scheme, based on the number of families where all parents are working.

Prime Minister David Cameron will say, ‘My message is clear. This Government is on the side of working people – helping them get on and supporting them at every stage of life.

‘That is exactly why we are pressing ahead with these reforms - so that not a moment is lost in getting on with the task - going further than ever before to help with childcare costs, helping hard working families and giving people the opportunity to get into work.’

Employment minister Priti Patel said, ‘We are doing more than any other government to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare for working families.

‘Having the right childcare in place will mean more parents can have genuine choice, security and peace of mind when it comes to being able to support their family.’

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Priti Patel said, 'I'll be leading a Government-led taskforce on the delivery of this.'

She confirmed that funding rates would be increased and the Government was committed to a consultation with providers.

‘We’ll increase this through consultation with providers before the summer. We’ll be working with the providers on this,’ she said.

Commenting on the plans, Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the Government had still not clarified how it would pay for its pledge.
 
'The Conservative Party was unable to explain how it would fund its childcare offer before the general election,' he said. 'It remains unclear how they propose to fill the funding gaps in their plans now.

'Education in the early years of a child's life is so crucial for improving their future prospects. The omission of a Government strategy to address educational inequality in the early years exposes a failure of the last Government that looks set to continue under this one.
 
'Ministers seem content to say nothing about improving education standards for all children so that they are school ready.'

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