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Children: Introduction of 30 hours of free childcare in September 2017 (England)

Published Tuesday, October 10, 2017

This House of Commons Library briefing paper is about the 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds in England which is now available. The eligibility criteria, planning for its introduction in September 2017, funding, the ability and willingness of the childcare market to deliver the policy and early findings are considered.

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The Childcare Act 2016 provides for an additional 15 hours of free childcare for certain working parents (subject to a means-test) of eligible 3 and 4 year olds, on top of the existing universal provision of 15 hours of free childcare.

This new “extended entitlement” was introduced in September 2017 across England, with some parents in pilot, “early innovator” and also “early roll-out” areas benefitting earlier.

The paper considers some of the early issues related to the introduction of the extended entitlement, including the supply of eligibility codes to parents, indicators of demand, and the rules on charging for extra hours and consumables (e.g. lunch).

In the 2015 Spending Review, the Government announced an extra £300 million to increase the national average funding rate for free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds to £4.88 (although the actual rate paid to providers will be determined by local authorities). In addition, £100 million of capital funding has been allocated to create 18,000 additional places.

Funding for childcare places is a devolved matter; this paper applies to England only.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7581

Author: Tim Jarrett

Topics: Child care, Employment, Local authorities: education, Local government, Pre-school education

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