Childcare

Department for Education written question – answered am ar 8 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Weir of Ballyholme Lord Weir of Ballyholme DUP

To ask His Majesty's Government what additional support they are providing to enable local authorities and childcare providers to meet demand arising from their commitment to provide free childcare hours.

Photo of Lord Weir of Ballyholme Lord Weir of Ballyholme DUP

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the percentage of areas where there is a shortage of childcare facilities and providers to provide their commitment of free childcare hours.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

There were 15,100 more childcare places in 2023 than the previous year, with 12,900 paid staff added to the same period according to the department’s latest Childcare and early years provider survey (2023).

To support providers to expand their provision further, the department is investing over £400 million of additional funding to uplift the hourly rate for the entitlements next year. This investment consists of £67 million in new funding to reflect the latest National Living Wage increase, an additional £57 million to support providers in respect of teachers’ pay and pensions, and the £288 million for the existing entitlements in 2024/25 announced in the Spring Budget in March 2023. It also builds on the £204 million of additional investment to increase funding rates this year. To further support the sector delivering the expansion of childcare support, the government is confirming that the hourly rate providers are paid to deliver the free hours offers will increase in line with the metric used at Spring Budget 2023 for the next two years. This reflects that workforce costs are the most significant costs for childcare providers and represents an estimated additional £500 million of investment over two years. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of children aged 3 and 4 are registered for a 30-hour place, saving eligible working parents up to £6,900 per child per year, helping even more working parents and making a real difference to the lives of those families.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that the provision of childcare is sufficient to meet the requirements of parents in their area. The department has regular contact with each local authority in England about their sufficiency of childcare, including supporting them through our childcare delivery support contract where appropriate.

The government has allocated £100 million in capital funding to local authorities to support the expansion of childcare places and the supply of wraparound care. The funding is anticipated to deliver thousands of new places across the country.

On top of the department’s funding reforms, it is also providing significant support for local authorities to deliver the early years expansion from April, such as:

  • Appointing a delivery support contractor (Childcare Works) to provide local authorities with support, advice, guidance and best practice sharing to help them deliver the expansion and deliver enough childcare places for residents. Coram are part of the Childcare Works consortium, and the department is delighted to be working with them to support local authorities to deliver.
  • Providing £12 million of delivery support funding to local authorities in financial year 2023/24, to help them meet the costs associated with the rollout.
  • In February 2024, the department launched a new national recruitment campaign for the early years and childcare sector, ‘Do something Big, Work with small children’, and a financial incentives pilot. Eligible joiners and returners will receive a tax-free payment of up to £1,000. This followed the introduction of workforce flexibilities to the Early Years Foundation Stage in January 2024.
  • The department has also introduced Skills Bootcamps for Early Years which will create a pathway to accelerated Level 3 Early Years Apprenticeships.

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