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.

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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.

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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

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