Closed petition Fund 30 hours free childcare from age 1 for families where both parents work

There is often no benefit for both parents to work when childcare costs so much. My wife is working 20 hours a week on just over minimum wage which just covers childcare. Extending free childcare where both parents work would mean working families could better benefit from their employment.

More details

Up the 30 free hours to the age of 1 from 3 for working families. This should encourage more parents to work. This in turn will bring in more tax and should encourage more spending.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

157,591 signatures

Show on a map

100,000

Parliament will consider this for a debate

Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate

Waiting for 318 days for a debate date

Government responded

This response was given on 25 November 2022

The government is not currently planning to extend 30 hours free childcare. We support working parents through a range of childcare offers, including Universal Credit and Tax-Free Childcare.

Read the response in full

Education and early years policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is devolved. The 30 hours free childcare offer in England aims to support working families of 3- and 4-year-olds with the cost of childcare and to help parents back into work or work more hours should they wish to. We are not currently planning an extension to this early years entitlement.

The government recognises the impact that cost of living pressures are having on families. In England, we have spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements to support families with the cost of childcare. Improving the cost, choice and availability of childcare for working parents is important for this government and we are exploring a wide range of options to achieve this.

In July, we announced measures to increase take-up of childcare support to ensure that families can access government support to save them money on their childcare bills. You can view the full announcement online at: Drive to reduce the cost of childcare for parents - (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/drive-to-reduce-the-cost-of-childcare-for-parents)

We are running a communications drive to encourage parents to take up the government childcare offers that they are entitled to. Parents are encouraged to visit https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/ for further information on the offers available.

All 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible for the 15-hour free entitlement regardless of their parents’ circumstances. This is available the term after a child turns 3 and is available for 38 weeks a year during term time. Parents can stretch their child’s entitlement by taking fewer hours per week over more weeks of the year (hours cannot be compressed into fewer than 38 weeks per year).

On top of this universal entitlement, an additional 15 hours (often known as ‘30 hours’ childcare) is available to parents who earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national minimum/living wage, and under £100,000 per year. This means that parents can be eligible if they earn from just over £7,900 per year, or £152 a week.

30 hours free childcare is making a difference to eligible working families’ lives, helping save eligible families up to £6,000 per child per year. Our 2021 childcare and early years parent survey (https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/childcare-and-early-years-survey-of-parents) found that almost three quarters of parents (73%) reported having more money to spend since they started using 30 hours, and almost two in five (38%) thought that without 30 hours they would be working fewer hours.

The government also offers 15 hours to disadvantaged 2-year-olds. Working parents on low incomes and in receipt of certain benefits (earning less than £15,400 and in receipt of Universal Credit or earning less than £16,190 and receiving tax credits) can qualify for 15 hours free early education for 2-year-olds.

The government appreciates that the cost of childcare can pose challenges for many families. But although the 2-year-old entitlement provides some practical support with the cost of childcare, this is not its primary purpose.

The core purpose of the 2-year-old entitlement is to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children from low-income families who are less likely to use formal early education, but who stand to benefit from it the most. National eligibility criteria have been designed to target those groups who the evidence shows will benefit most from early education.

In addition to the free early education entitlements, across government there are other childcare offers that support working parents who wish to work more hours and need assistance with childcare.

Working parents on Universal Credit may be eligible for help with up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit Childcare which can be used in addition to the early education entitlements to support with the costs of childcare. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children for children aged 0-16.

The government also offers Tax-Free Childcare, which can help parents with an additional 20% contribution towards childcare costs outside the free entitlements. Tax-Free Childcare which can be worth up to £2,000 per year for your child from 0-11, or up to £4,000 per year for disabled children aged 0-16.

Department for Education

Other parliamentary business

Catherine McKinnell MP questions the Prime Minister on childcare at the Liaison Committee

The Prime Minister appeared before the Liaison Committee on Tues 20 December.

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, questioned the Prime Minister on a number of issues including the cost of childcare in the UK.

Watch the Liaison Committee back

Read the transcript of the Liaison Committee

This was following petitions calling for the Government to take action on the cost of childcare, including:

Watch the debate relating to funding and availability of childcare

Read the transcript of the debate relating to funding and availability of childcare

What is the Liaison Committee?

The Liaison Committee is made up of Select Committee Chairs. It considers the overall work of select committees, promotes the questioning of the Government and chooses committee reports for debates. It questions the Prime Minister about policy, usually three times a year.

Find out more about the Liaison Committee

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

Sign up to the UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference

MPs investigate support for childcare and the early years

A group of MPs called the Education Committee are looking into support for childcare and the early years.

The issues the Committee is considering include:

  • How affordable and easy to understand the provision of childcare in England is
  • Whether current entitlements are providing parents and carers with sufficient childcare
  • The workforce challenges faced by early years providers
  • Whether the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) system is meeting the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND)

Read the Committee's press notice announcing this work for more information.

What happens next?

The Committee is going to conduct 'evidence sessions' where they will hear from experts in the sector and representatives from the Government.

An 'evidence session' is a hearing where MPs ask key experts, such as Ministers or campaigners, questions on a particular topic. These experts are called 'witnesses' and they help MPs to gain a deeper understanding of the topic.

The Committee will then consider all the evidence it has taken and publish a report of its findings with recommendations to the Government on any changes that might be needed.

For more information about the inquiry, visit the Committee's inquiry page.

What is the Education Committee?

The Education Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Education, covering children's social care, schools, colleges, the early years and higher education.

The Education Committee is a select committee.

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

Sign up to the Your UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference.

MPs debate the affordability and availability of childcare

On Tuesday 21 February, MPs debated the affordability and availability of childcare.

This was a Westminster Hall debate, led by Ruth Cadbury MP. Claire Coutinho MP, the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, responded to the debate.

What are Westminster Hall debates?

Westminster Hall is the second Chamber of the House of Commons.

Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Any MP can take part in a Westminster Hall debate.

Debates in Westminster Hall take place on ‘general debate' motions expressed in neutral terms. These motions are worded ‘That this House has considered [a specific matter]'.

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

Sign up to the Your UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference.

Government announces increased access to free childcare

On Wednesday 15 March, the Government announced that working parents in England will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare per week, for 38 weeks of the year, from when their child is 9 months old to when they start school.

This will be rolled out in stages:

  • From April 2024, all working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours per week
  • From September 2024, all working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years old will be able to access 15 hours per week
  • From September 2025 all working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years old will be able to access 30 hours free childcare per week

Find out more in the Government's Spring Budge factsheet.

The Government also announced that it would be changing the staff-to-child ratios for 2 year olds from 1:4 to 1:5.

Find out more about the outcome of the childcare regulatory changes consultation .

The Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP said:

"The Petitions Committee over several years of debate and public engagement, has heard from tens of thousands of parents struggling to afford suitable childcare.

“I’m proud the Petitions Committee has been able to give these tireless campaigners and industry experts a platform, and I thank everyone who has campaigned on this issue, especially those who have started and signed e-petitions about childcare.

"Yet – there is still more to do."

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a group of cross-party MPs that oversees petitions started on petition.parliament.uk

Follow the Committee on Twitter for real-time updates on its work.

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

Sign up to the Your UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference.