Press release

Thousands of parents benefit from 30 hours' free childcare early

Working parents to receive double the current amount of free childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Early years children playing

Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah has today (2 February 2016) announced £13 million, which will allow councils across the country to deliver 30 hours of free childcare for hard working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds - a year ahead of schedule.

As a result, some working parents in Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will now benefit from the early offer from this September.

The extra hours of childcare will make it easier for these parents to work and is another move designed to meet the government’s commitment to make work pay.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier preventing parents and particularly mothers from working. That’s why I’m delighted that in just a few months’ time, we will see the first families benefiting from the government’s offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents.

We have made a commitment to help working people, and through this extended offer we will help thousands more parents who want to return to work to do so.

The government will also be looking at the issues that make it difficult for parents with particular challenges to access childcare, including special educational needs and disability.

The core group of councils will be supported by 25 others, who will look specifically at innovative ways of making sure childcare is accessible to as many parents as possible.

Their experiences will then be used to support the full rollout in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement.

Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah said:

I know how important childcare is from my own personal experience, and I couldn’t be more determined to make sure we give children the best start in life, support parents to work, and as a result, allow our country to prosper.

I’m pleased that we are investing in childcare, and I’m looking forward to seeing how working parents benefit from 30 hours’ free childcare, before we roll the offer out to the rest of the country.

All 3- and 4-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, and this is also extended to the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds. Last year, more than 1 million 3- and 4-year-olds, and 157,000 2-year-olds benefited from this offer.

The government is now going further than ever before, and will provide an additional 15 free hours to working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds from September 2017 - delivering on a key manifesto pledge

As part of this government’s commitment to helping hardworking people, we will be investing more than £1 billion extra per year by 2019 to 2020 to fund the extension of the free childcare entitlement.

The Department for Education will also be piloting a new contract with councils, and consulting on a fairer funding formula for the early years, to help ensure that local authorities are passing the money on to providers, and that providers are given a fair rate.

Notes to editors

The Department for Education ran an open competition to test how the 30 hours would work, and has chosen 8 councils to offer this from September 2016.

Early innovators in each local cluster will work together to focus on special educational needs and disability, flexibility, availability of places, and making work pay.

They include the northern powerhouse and rural areas where it can be difficult to organise childcare.

The 25 early innovators are:

  • North West: Stockport, Bolton, Trafford, Cheshire West and Chester, Bury
  • Midlands: Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City, Walsall
  • South West: Cornwall
  • South East: Hampshire, West Sussex, Medway, East Sussex, Brighton and Hove
  • London and East of England: Kingston and Richmond, Barking and Dagenham, Islington, Ealing, Hillingdon
  • North East and Yorkshire and the Humber: Gateshead, Bradford, Sheffield, Eastriding, Wakefield, North Yorkshire

The additional 15 hours of free childcare is available for families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone-parent family), and each parent earns the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national minimum or living wage, and earns less than £100,000 a year.

The government will be testing out the new eligibility checking system, bringing all of our childcare offers together online.

Media enquiries

Published 2 February 2016