With almost a year to go until some hardworking families can benefit from the government’s 30 hours of free childcare a week, innovative childcare providers are being asked to come forward as the first in the country to deliver the offer. It is being rolled out to parents in September 2016 - a year earlier than planned.
As part of the government’s ‘One Nation’ plans to make sure hardworking families benefit from support with childcare as soon as possible, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is asking childcare providers and councils to come forward with innovative and flexible ideas of how they would deliver the new offer from next year - as well as asking parents up and down the country how the extra hours will help them.
The move follows a pledge from the government to increase the average funding rates paid to providers - a review with the sector on how to do this ended just this month. The government now wants childcare providers to come forward with their ideas of how they would deliver the extra hours of childcare next year.
It also underlines the government’s commitment to help hardworking people, with £5 billion spent on childcare support - more than any previous administration and an increase of £1 billion since 2010.
Also today (26 August 2015), new figures show the vast majority of working parents - more than 80% - would take up the extended offer of free childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds if it were available now.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who will be speaking to Rolls-Royce employees today about how the new offer could work for them, said:
For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier to working parents and particularly mothers. This ‘One Nation’ government is on the side of hardworking people - that is why this time next year we’ll see the first families benefit from the government’s offer of 30 hours of free childcare for working parents.
Today, we’re calling on providers to tell us how they can offer innovative, high-quality childcare that helps parents return to work while keeping more of their hard-earned money in their back pocket.
The government is also reaching out to parents and employers to hear how plans to double the number of free hours for 3- and 4-year-olds will take pressure off household budgets and enable parents to work, if they want to do so. To do this, the Department for Education has joined forces with Facebook to reach as many parents as possible, and in particular those who wouldn’t normally respond to a government survey.
Over 2,000 mums and dads have already joined the conversation, with more than three quarters responding to a Department for Education survey saying they would take up the offer of 30 hours free childcare, if it were available now.
Education and Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah will be joining the Education Secretary on the visit to Rolls-Royce, which is just of one a number of events, held in conjunction with the Cabinet Office, at large employers, including Legal & General, Deloitte and Hewlett-Packard.
At the firm in Derby, working parents with different skill sets and salaries will discuss what the extra 15 hours will mean for them.
At previous events, parents have praised the impact the additional hours will have on their lives, saying they would “improve children’s stability and ability to form close friendships” and would “allow [them] to find more consistent arrangements”.
Education and Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah said:
We are committed to making sure that every family regardless of their background has access to high-quality, affordable childcare.
I’m delighted that more parents than ever before are taking up the offer, with 99% of 4-year-olds and 94% of 3-year-olds now accessing 15 hours a week of free childcare.
We want to create a productive economy that helps every family reach their potential, which is why we’re asking parents from all walks of life what difference the extra 15 hours will make to them.
There are a number of other ways for parents to get involved in the conversation, including through the online survey, or by using the hashtag #30hourschildcare.
This will feed into the work of the government’s childcare taskforce, which is driving forward the plans to benefit working families, and is headed by both the Childcare Minister and the Employment Minister Priti Patel.
Priti Patel said:
We want every family to be able to make the most of the opportunities created by our growing economy and to give their children the best start in life.
That is why we are accelerating plans to double free childcare for working families, making childcare more affordable than ever before. Parents know what’s best for their families and we’ll now be speaking to them direct about their childcare needs.
Further information on the government’s support for parents
This government spends £5 billion on childcare - more than any previous administration and an increase of £1 billion since 2010.
The new 30-hour offer provides the equivalent of 30 hours per week of free childcare, making every 3- and 4-year-old with working parents eligible for 1,140 hours of free childcare per year. This is worth £5,000 per child, per year.
The 2-year-old offer gives 15 hours of free childcare per week to the 40% of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. It is worth £2,500 per child, per year.
We are also supporting parents on lower incomes by providing up to 70% of their childcare costs through working tax credits, which will rise to 85% under Universal Credit from 2016. And, from 2017, the introduction of Tax-free Childcare will give up to 1.8 million families the opportunity to receive up to £2,000 of support per year, per child.
We have introduced Shared Parental Leave and Pay which allow working parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay if they choose to. This means that they can decide who will be their child’s primary carer or share the responsibility between them.
Since April 2015, employees have had the right to request flexible working, which has doubled the number of employees making a request to over 20 million.
These initiatives will ensure that no woman is prevented from working because she has chosen to have children.
Further supportive quotes
Natalie Sigona, Rolls-Royce, Global Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, said:
Rolls-Royce is committed to developing a diverse workforce and an inclusive working environment. In a rapidly changing and competitive economy we recognise how important it is to have an agile and flexible work environment to enable high performance.
We support our employees in achieving a balance between work and home life and we are pleased that they have this opportunity to feedback their opinion on the government initiative.
Emma Codd, Managing Partner for Talent at Deloitte, said:
We know it is challenging to balance a career with family commitments, so welcome any measure designed to support working families.
At Deloitte we have put in place a number of programmes to support working parents, including emergency childcare support, an agile working programme and a return to work scheme.
From Jane Keith, HR Director, Hewlett-Packard, said:
We recognise that working parents can face real challenges in finding and paying for quality childcare, and so were keen to give them the opportunity to help shape the government’s new policy in this area.
We were overwhelmed with interest from parents at the first of our sites we consulted, so we’re running further sessions around the country to give the rest of our UK workforce the chance to contribute too. Knowing that their children are well cared for gives parents the capacity to give their best at work.
Ted Hart, Head of Public Policy & Affairs, Legal & General, said:
L&G is delighted to support this conversation. Making sure that parents can access the right childcare provision for their needs is key to delivering household resilience.
Notes to editors
See the online survey.
The companies taking part in the discussion events include Accenture, BT, Deloitte, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, John Lewis Partnership, Legal & General, O2 and Carillion.
All 3- and 4-year-olds already receive 15 hours of free childcare a week regardless of whether their parents work.
The new offer provides the equivalent of 30 hours per week of free childcare over 38 weeks (equivalent to the academic year), making 3- and 4-year-olds with working parents eligible for 1,140 hours of free childcare per year. This will be worth around £5,000 per child, per year.
The 2-year-old offer gives 15 hours of free childcare per week over 38 weeks of the year. It is available for the 40% of children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. It is worth £2,500 per child per year.
More information on flexible working or Shared Parental Leave is available.
Organisations who would like to register their interest can do so by sending an email saying “I’d like to be an early implementer” to firstname.lastname@example.org before midday on Monday 28 September.