Closed petition Offer 15hrs free childcare for multiples under 3 years

There is currently no free childcare scheme for parents who are not claiming benefits to help them with childcare before their children are 3 years old. This is a particular issues for parents who have multiples (twins, triplets etc).

More details

Having to pay double (or more) for childcare is prohibitively expensive in the early years before age 3 when the Government childcare funding kicks in. Having multiples is a blessing but it comes with a lot of financial strain. The detrimental impact of financial strain from not being able to work or earn enough to fund childcare can have a direct impact. If you are unable to return to work as your pay doesn't cover care, can you afford bills, food etc?

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Government responded

This response was given on 29 April 2021

Government continues to support families with their childcare costs. There are already forms of support to help with the costs of childcare for under 3s.

Read the response in full

The government continues to support families with their childcare costs.

The government funds 15 hours of free, high-quality early education to all three- and four-year-olds, helping them develop social skills and preparing them for school.

In September 2017, the government introduced 30 hours free childcare for working parents of three- and four-year-olds, supporting working families with the cost of childcare.

Support is available for working parents of children from 0-11 years old (or up to 16 if disabled) on middle and higher incomes through Tax-Free Childcare. This scheme means that for every £8 parents pay their provider via an online account, the government will pay £2 – up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child each year (up to £500 every 3 months), or £4,000 if disabled.

Tax-Free childcare is limited to where parents earn under £100,000 per year. The £100,000 per parent cap on Tax-Free Childcare ensures that support is targeted at the working families who require the most support in order to return to work or work more.

Working parents on a low income may also be eligible for help with up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit Childcare. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children, payable in arrears.

Evidence suggests that the disadvantage gap starts early and factors that emerge before the age of 5 can explain a substantial amount of variance (40%) in the disadvantage gap in attainment at age 16. The government therefore also provides funding for 15 hours a week of high quality early education for 2 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds with the objective of improving their life outcomes.

The eligibility criteria for access to the 2 year old entitlement are available here, and includes children with an Education, Health and Care Plan, looked after or previously looked after children in addition to those in lower income households:
https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/free-childcare-2-year-olds

Evidence does not suggest that children of multiple births suffer poorer educational outcomes in their early years. For this reason, the government does not currently plan to extend eligibility to families with children of multiple birth.

Government does not intend to review eligibility criteria at this time. Parents may find it useful to visit Childcare Choices to find out more information about the government’s full childcare offer and to help them understand what support they may be eligible for at: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.

Department for Education

Other parliamentary business

Childcare costs debated by MPs

On Tuesday 7 June, MPs debated the cost of childcare and children's education recovery. This was an Opposition Day debate on a motion determined by the Labour Party.

Watch the debate: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/396f4020-be34-46b4-9cb4-d850fa2e5a03?in=16:12:54

Read a transcript of the debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-06-07/debates/7018B655-BB9C-44A1-A093-3698005106A8/Children%E2%80%99SEducationRecoveryAndChildcareCosts

During the debate, MPs highlighted concerns about the affordability and availability of childcare, and the impact this has on parents' (especially mothers') ability to remain in employment.

MPs also discussed the Government's plans to help children at school catch up on their education following the disruption caused by the covid-19 pandemic, support for the early years sector, and young people's mental health.

What are Opposition Days?

Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons for the discussion of subjects chosen by the opposition (non-government) parties.

Find out more about Opposition days: https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/opposition-days

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Share your views on changes to childcare staffing requirements with the Government

The Government has launched a public consultation on changes it is proposing to the number of children that childcare providers are allowed to look after in England.

Find out more about the consultation, and share your views

The consultation is open until 11.45pm on 16 September 2022. Once the consultation has closed, the Government will publish a summary of the responses and next steps on GOV.UK.

What is the Government proposing?

The Government's proposals include changing the minimum staff to child ratios in England for 2-year-olds from 1:4 to 1:5. This means that each individual member of staff would be able to look after five 2-year olds. Currently a single member of childcare staff cannot look after more than four 2-year olds.

The proposals also including giving childminders extra flexibility to care for a fourth child under the age of 5 when looking after their own children or siblings of another child they care for.

The Government has said its plans are designed to improve the choice and availability of childcare that families can access while reducing costs, and to give childcare providers more flexibility and autonomy. This consultation seeks views on these proposals, to ensure any changes are "fair and well-informed".

Read more about the Government's plans in their press release.

The Minister for Children and Families, Will Quince MP, also made a written statement to MPs, setting out the Government's proposals.

Who is running the consultation?

The consultation is being run by the Department for Education, the Government department responsible for children’s services and education (including early years education) in England. The devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are responsible for policy in those nations.

Find out more about what the Department for Education does.

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