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Question for Department for Education

UIN HL2624, tabled on 17 October 2022

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure childcare is (1) accessible, and (2) affordable, in particular for low-income families.

Answered on

25 October 2022

Improving parents’ access to affordable, flexible childcare is a government priority. In July, the department announced measures to increase take-up of childcare support and reduce the costs and bureaucracy facing providers. This included consulting on changing staff-to-child ratios for two-year-olds in group-based settings and clarifying flexibilities for childminders, to give providers more autonomy.

The department announced additional funding of £160 million in 2022/23, £180 million in 2023/24, and £170 million in 2024/25, compared to the 2021/22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers.

The department also announced a £1.2 million marketing campaign underway via the Childcare Choices website to ensure that every parent knows about the government-funded support they are eligible for. The campaign has driven a significant increase in traffic to the Childcare Choices site, and an increase in referrals for Universal Credit, Tax-Free Childcare, and 30 hours entitlements.

The department extended eligibility for the disadvantaged two-year-old entitlement to families with no recourse to public funds, subject to income thresholds that are broadly equivalent to those for families who are able to access benefits.

We continue to work across government to look at ways to make childcare more affordable and to encourage families to use the government-funded support they are entitled to.