To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans her Department has to ensure that there will be sufficient high quality early education places to meet the proposed target of 30 hours of free childcare a week for working parents of three and four year olds.
11 September 2015
The Government is committed to delivering flexible, affordable and quality childcare for parents. We are carefully consulting parents, employers, providers and local authorities, and reviewing of the cost of providing childcare with a commitment to increase the average funding rate paid to providers.
The market is growing (with around 230,000 more places than in 2009) and has already demonstrated that it is able to respond through the roll-out of the entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds introduced in the last Parliament.
We recognise that there is natural growth in the childcare system, we can and should encourage new providers to enter the childcare market or existing providers to expand. We have supported this expansion with changes made to reduce bureaucracy, helping schools to provide places, and by enabling the setting up of childminder agencies.
Our new entitlement of 30 hours of free childcare provides an opportunity for further growth for existing childcare providers to expand and for new providers to enter the market, helping to build a stronger economy and give parents increased choice. Full roll-out is scheduled for September 2017, and our approach will be informed by the experiences of pilot areas in 2016. We want to learn from the experience of early implementers to ensure that the market works effectively for both parents and providers.
We are in the process of undertaking a review of the cost of provision and have committed to increasing the average funding rate providers receive, which will help the sector to grow. It is important that the hourly rate for the childcare entitlement strikes the right balance between being fair for providers and delivering value for money to the taxpayer.