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Help for families: Free childcare could be extended to parents of ALL two-year-olds under new government proposals

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FREE childcare rights will be extended for hard-working families, under plans being considered by the government
Author: 
Wooding, David
Publication Date: 
19 Oct 2019
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EXCERPTS

Ministers are looking at fresh ways to help struggling families juggling their busy lives while bringing up young children.

Cabinet members have privately agreed that boosting the number of free nursery places should be a top priority for the next election manifesto.

A Government source said: “It is high on our list of priorities and has the support of three senior ministers.

“The various options were discussed at a Cabinet manifesto planning meeting last week.

“We’re keen to do something eye-catching in this area but have yet to decide exactly what.”

Ministers are working on costings. Childcare is expensive and the government estimates it will be spending £6billion a year on childcare support next year.

One option is to make free childcare available for all two-year-olds, not just those whose parents are on benefits such as income support or Universal Credit.

CARE COSTS

They are also considering increasing the maximum of up to 30 hours a week of free childcare available to the parents of three and four-year-olds.

Some minsters want to change the rules of entitlement which dictate that the 30 hours can only be taken during school terms.

This means it is only available 38 hours of the year, which means it is equivalent to 22.6 hours a week if used over a whole year.

Stevenage Tory MP Stephen McPartland, who is pushing for extra childcare in the next Budget, welcomed the move.

He said: “The cost of childcare is a massive barrier to work and often the biggest bill facing a family after their housing costs.

“If we really want to help and support working families, we must make 30 hours free childcare available all year round.

“It is ridiculous that it was only designed for school term times. We should extend it to the school holidays in the next Budget or our manifesto.

“Come on, Boris. If you are serious about tackling the cost of living, let us sort this out for working families.”

A Treasury source admitted discussions have taken place but said on Saturday: “This is speculation and no new policies have been agreed.

Entered Date: 
23 Oct 2019
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