House of Commons Library

Costs and benefits of free childcare

Published Friday, February 15, 2019

On 19 February 2019, there will be a Westminster Hall debate on the Costs and benefits of free childcare, starting at 9:30am. The debate is sponsored by Darren Jones MP.

Below is a reading list of key reports relevant to this debate.

For background to Coalition and Conservative government policy relating to free childcare, the Library has published papers on Childcare: the level of funding for free provision for 3 and 4 year olds (England) (October  2018) and Childcare: "30 hours" of free childcare – eligibility, access codes and charges (England) (10 January 2018)

The Department for Education published an Evaluation of the first year of the national rollout of 30 hours free childcare in September 2018. This was a independent review carried out by Frontier Economics looking at the implementation and impact of the policy.

The Treasury Committee childcare inquiry reported in March 2018. Its report looked at the economic impact of the Government's childcare policies, including its 30 hours free childcare scheme. The report also considered the design and funding of their childcare policies, as well as problems that have been encountered. The Government responded in June 2018.

The Education Committee has just published a report on Tackling disadvantage in the early years. Paragraphs 37 to 43 discuss the 30 hours free childcare scheme. The report also considers the quality of early years education and its workforce.

The Public Accounts Committee published a report in 2016 examining Entitlement to free early years education and childcare, looking at the take up of both the universal offer of 15 hours of free childcare for 3-4 year olds, and its extension to disadvantaged 2 year olds.

Other analysis

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has carried out research on policies relating to gender and family, including the provision of childcare. Of particular interest are Does free childcare help parents work? (December 2016) and The economic effects of pre-school education and quality (September 2014).

Family and Childcare Trust has published its findings from the Childcare Survey 2018, a study of the childcare sector through the perspective of local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. A findings of a survey of families' opinion was also published in December 2018 by the Department for Education: see the Childcare and early years survey of parents: 2018 for more information.

The ONS article Families and the labour market, England: 2018 contains the latest employment rates for parents.

The library briefing paper The gender pay gap provides statistics on the size of the gender pay gap, and looks at some of the reasons why it arises.

Previous debates

There have been earlier parliamentary debates on the same subject: see Free Childcare (HC deb 12 October 2017 volume 629, cc188-212WH) and E-petition 132140 relating to free childcare (HC deb 21 Nov 2016 volume 617 cc229-254WH). The Library published a debate pack for the latter.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2019-0041

Author: Alexander Bellis

Topics: Child care, Employment, Incomes and poverty, Pre-school education

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