Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has announced 30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of 9 months, with support being phased in until every single eligible working parent of under 5s gets this support by September 2025.
The government will also pay the childcare costs of parents on Universal Credit moving into work or increasing their hours upfront, rather than in arrears – removing a major barrier to work for those who are on benefits.
The maximum they can claim will also be boosted to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children – an increase of around 50%.
Significant reforms to childcare will remove barriers to work for nearly half a million parents with a child under 3 in England not working due to caring responsibilities, reducing discrimination against women and benefitting the wider economy in the process.
The policy, announced in the Chancellor’s Spring 2023 Budget, will offer:
- 30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of 9 months with working parents by September 2025, where eligibility will match the existing 3-4 year-old 30 hours offer.
- This will be introduced in phases, with 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of 2-year-olds coming into effect in April 2024 and 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of 9 months – 3 years old in September 2024.
- The funding paid to nurseries for the existing free hours offers will also be increased by £204 million from this September rising to £288 million next year.
- Schools and local authorities will be funded to increase the supply of wraparound care, so that parents of school age children can drop their children off between 8am and 6pm – tackling the barriers to working caused by limited availability of wraparound care.
- Childcare costs of parents moving into work or increasing their hours on Universal Credit paid upfront rather than in arrears, with maximum claim boosted to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children – an increase of around 50%.
- In recognition of both the importance and short supply of childminders, incentive payments of £600 will be piloted from Autumn of this year for those who sign up to the profession (rising to £1,200 for those who join through an agency) to increase the number available and increase choice and affordability for parents.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt claimed Britain “is on a lasting path to growth” with a revolution in childcare support, the biggest ever employment package and the best investment incentives in Europe.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning & Work Institute, responded to the announcement saying there are “some very welcome and substantial measures” to help people back to work in the Budget, including investment in childcare.