Clause 2 - Qualifying childcare

Part of Childcare Payments Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:45 am ar 21 Hydref 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Exchequer Secretary 10:45, 21 Hydref 2014

We have heard already, and I will explain again, that the objective of the new scheme is to ensure that parents can choose to go out to work and are not prevented from doing so because of the high cost of child care. Fundamental to the scheme is what is meant by child care for these purposes. As we have already heard, the definition is set out in clause 2. It contains two conditions which child care must meet to be treated as qualifying child care.

I will respond directly to the points made by the hon. Member for Stockton North and my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke, in particular about their focus on disabled children. Obviously, the Committee saw my letter last week, which was very clear that we recognise that parents of disabled children face a range of additional challenges as well as costs and burdens when they are trying to fulfil working life alongside caring for a child. It is challenging and incredibly difficult. We have already recognised that by allowing support under the scheme to continue until a disabled child reaches the age of 17.

A number of points were made about whether parents will be able to use the scheme to pay for short breaks, assistance and cover in terms of carers’ breaks. Parents will be able to use the scheme to help pay for a disabled child to take a short break, providing the care meets the definition of qualifying childcare and the parent is using the child care to enable them and their partner, if they have one, to work. The scheme will also support parents of disabled children in other ways. We recognise that the costs of child care are incredibly high.

I re-emphasise the points that I made last week to remind hon. Members of my commitment to look at increasing the limit for parents of disabled children. I am very keen to engage with interested parent groups to discuss how that might be done. It is important that we invest time to try to get this right. I assure the Committee that I will make any necessary changes to draft regulations in due course. The scheme as it stands recognises that this is a difficult issue and that disabled children need specialist care, which is expensive. Therefore we are extending support to care that is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and allowing parents to use domiciliary care to access the scheme as well.