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Children: Day Care

Question for Treasury

UIN HL3325, tabled on 21 October 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Centre for Progressive Policy report Women in the Workforce – Boosting Mothers’ employment and earnings, published on 14 October, and in particular the finding that the UK has the second lowest public spend on childcare among OECD economies.

Answered on

4 November 2021

I welcome the report from the Centre for Progressive Policy on Women in the Workforce – Boosting Mothers’ employment and earnings. As the report highlights, inadequate childcare provision can act as a barrier to women’s participation in the labour market. This is why childcare policy in the UK is designed to provide working parents with support to continue to work.

To support working parents with their childcare costs, the government introduced Tax-Free Childcare (TFC), which provides eligible working parents with 20% support on childcare costs, up to £2,000 per child per year (£4,000 for disabled children). The number of working parents benefiting from this is increasing: 308,000 families used TFC for 364,000 children in June 2021, up from 282,000 families using childcare for 329,000 children in March 2021.

In addition to TFC, the government spent around £3.6bn in 20-21 on early childcare entitlements and we continue to support families with their childcare costs. All three- and four-year-olds can access 15 hours of free childcare per week, regardless of circumstance. Eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds can also access an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week, also known as 30 hours free childcare. Some parents may also be able to access the disadvantaged 2-year-old offer which gives 15 hours of free childcare per week to 2-year-olds who meet certain social and economic criteria.

This approach is working – evidence shows that the government approach to childcare is helping to improve the employment rate for married/cohabiting women with dependent children, which has risen to 77.9% in, up 0.6% on the year (Q2 2021 vs Q2 2020), and 1.1% pre-covid (Q2 2021 vs Q2 2019).

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