Camden Council will increase the 15-hour free entitlement to 25 hours a week for at least the next two academic years in 13 out of 15 of its children’s centres and all primary schools that have a nursery.
The council halved the number of full-time nursery places in schools and children’s centres to 800 in the wake of Government cuts to local authority funding in 2010.
Priority was given to children with special educational needs and disabilities and families with both parents working with a household income of less than £35,000 a year, or who were in training.
The council said it has now reinstated the funding, which they said as well as supporting the poorest families, should help parents on middle-incomes, who are losing child benefit.
Councillor Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, said, ‘This important step towards universal childcare is another example of Camden Council listening to our residents and doing everything we can to soften the impact welfare reforms are having on those who work and those who wish to get into work.
‘Research from our equalities taskforce, as well as evidence from our schools and parents, shows that better access to childcare is very much needed by our residents.’
The council’s cabinet member for children, councillor Angela Mason, said, ‘Our excellent primary schools believe that full time nursery provision is key to children’s development and, of course, it gives parents, particularly mothers, the opportunity to take up work or training.
‘Childcare costs in London are the highest in the country. As the cuts in child benefit kick in along with other benefit reductions this is an issue that affects thousands of middle and higher income families as well as the poorest working families.’
A report by the Resolution Foundation last year recommended increasing the free entitlement for three- and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week and charging parents £1 an hour for the extra ten hours.