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Just under 200 nurseries, pre-schools and schools in England will share £50m in Government funding to build, expand and refurbish premises ahead of the 30-hour offer.

The early years sector has warned that expanding the free entitlement in Scotland from 600 to 1,140 hours per year by 2020 will only work with adequate funding and resources.

New research claims the Government has underestimated the take-up of the 30-hours by more than 100,000 places, saying that as many as 500,000 parents could be eligible, rather than the 390,000 cited by the Government.

National charity Grandparents Plus has been given £250,000 to support more family and friend carers looking after children.

A multi-million pound package to support children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) has been announced by the Government.

The Scottish Government is being urged to end a ‘birthday discrimination rule’, which means some children are entitled to 400 fewer hours of free childcare.

Nursery owners in Surrey are challenging the local authority on how much early years funding should be held back for council costs.