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Pre-school Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 114774, tabled on 31 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) availability and (b) affordability of early years education and childcare in (i) Coventry North East constituency, (ii) Coventry, (iii) the West Midlands and (iv) England.

Answered on

3 February 2022

The department monitors the sufficiency of childcare places in England through regular telephone calls and email contact with local authority early years teams. We have not seen councils reporting any substantial place supply issues, and we have not seen a substantial number of parents unable to secure a childcare place this term or since early years providers re-opened fully on 1 June 2020. Coventry City Council, which holds the statutory duty to secure sufficient childcare places in Coventry North East, is not reporting any issues with childcare places at present, as is true for the West Midlands and across England.

According to Ofsted data published on 30 November, the number of places offered by non-domestic providers on the early years register in the Coventry City Council area has remained broadly stable between August 2015 and August 2021. In addition, according to findings from the 2021 childcare and early years providers survey, across England, 7 in 10 group-based providers reported having spare places in their full day provision and almost half of childminders (49%) reported having spare capacity on average across the week. We recognise that the cost of childcare is a key concern for parents which is why the government has made an unprecedented investment in childcare over the past decade.

We have spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements and the government will continue to support families with their childcare costs. At the Spending Review 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced additional funding of £160 million in financial year 2022-23, £180 million in financial year 2023-24 and £170 million in financial year 2024-25, compared to the current financial year. For financial year 2022-23 we will increase hourly funding rates for all local authorities by 21p an hour for the 2 year old entitlement, and, for the vast majority of areas, by 17p an hour for the 3 and 4 year old entitlement. This is for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers and reflects cost pressures as well as anticipated changes in the number of eligible children.

There is a substantial offer in place to support parents with childcare costs. In 2021, 328,700 children had a government-funded early education entitlement place for 30 hours, worth up to £6,000. Our 2019 Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents found that more than three quarters of parents (78%) reported having more money to spend since they started using 30 hours, and a third (33%) thought that without 30 hours they would be working fewer hours.

The department continues to explore what more can be done to help parents access childcare which suits their lives, including that which is out of hours or before or after school. We are committed to working together across government to make our current suite of offers work as effectively as possible and ensure it delivers for those parents who need it.

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