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Closed petition Increase funding for early years settings

We believe Government funding for early years settings is too low, and making it difficult to keep these settings open. This will only be more difficult with the increase in minimum wage. Everyone wants childcare standards high, but we believe more funding is needed to achieve this.

More details

Some early years settings, especially in deprived areas, rely on early years funding to pay staff, bills and maintain high standards and with the increase in minimum wage some of these businesses may struggle to remain open.

Additional Government funding for early years settings should help reduce the pressures on these settings, and we believe is desperately needed.

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Government responded

This response was given on 20 December 2022

We have spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past 3 years on our early education entitlements. Over one million children per year are benefitting from this Government’s record investment.

The Government understands that hard-working parents rely on childcare to help them balance their home and work commitments. We can rightly be proud of our childcare sector. 96% of childcare settings in England are now rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, an increase from 74% in 2012. Ofsted data also shows that the number of childcare places available has remained broadly stable since August 2015.

The Government already provides a significant package of childcare support to parents and carers and over one million children every year are now benefitting from our record investment in early years education entitlements. These include 15 hours of free childcare a week for 3- and 4-year-olds and a further 15 hours a week for 3- and 4-year-olds with working parents, also known as 30 hours free childcare, which can help save families up to £6,000 per child per year. 15 hours a week of free early education is also available for disadvantaged 2-year-olds.

We know the sector is facing economic challenges, similar to the challenges being faced across the economy. We have already announced additional funding of £160 million in 2022–23, £180 million in 2023–24 and £170 million in 2024–25, compared to the 2021–22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers. Improving the cost, choice and availability of childcare for working parents is important for this government.

For 2022-23 we have increased the hourly funding rates for all local authorities by 21p an hour for the 2-year-old entitlement and, for the vast majority of areas, by 17p an hour for the 3 and 4-year-old entitlement. We have also increased the minimum funding floor – meaning no council can receive less than £4.61 per hour for the 3 and 4-year-old entitlements.

For 2023-24, we are investing an additional £20 million into the early years entitlements. This is on top of the additional £180m for 2023-24 announced at the Spending Review. Taken together, this will help support early years providers at a national level with the additional National Living Wage costs associated with delivering the free childcare entitlements next year.

Local authorities are set to receive average funding increases of 3.4% for the 3- and 4-year-old free childcare entitlements and 4% for the 2- year-old entitlement in 2023-24, compared to their 2022-23 rates. All local authorities will benefit from at least a 1% increase in their funding rates in 2023-24, with increases for some up to 4.9% for 3- 4-year-olds, and up to 10% for 2-year-olds.

We will also be investing an additional £10 million into maintained nursery school (MNS) supplementary funding from 2023-24; this is on top of the increase in 2022-23, where we have increased the supplementary funding hourly rate by 3.5% - equivalent to the increase in the 3 and 4-year-old hourly funding rates. We have also confirmed the continuation of MNS supplementary funding throughout the spending review period, providing the sector with long-term certainty.

The Government remains committed to the future of the early years education sector. We continue to monitor the market closely through a range of research projects, including our annual Childcare and Early Years Providers Survey which gives the government robust evidence on the provider market. The most recent survey was published 9th December 2021 and the latest was published on 15th December 2022. We are also in regular contact with early years sector stakeholders through meetings and working groups and we feed their messages right into the heart of government..

Department for Education

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.

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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]'.

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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.

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Support for childcare and the early years debated by MPs

On Monday 16 October, Robin Walker MP led a debate in Parliament on support for childcare and the early years. During the debate, MPs discussed the 30 hours free childcare scheme and the early childhood education and care system.

Backbench business debates give backbenchers (MPs who aren’t ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the Chamber or Westminster Hall.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, who hears and decides which debates to schedule.

Backbench debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This debate was a general debate.

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Government responds to Education Committee's report on childcare

MPs on the House of Commons Education Committee called for action by the Government to help support the childcare and early years sector.

Government response to the Committee's report on supporting the childcare and early years sector

In July 2023, the Committee published a report on supporting the childcare and early years sector and made recommendations to increase choice, availability and flexibility for parents.

You can read a summary of the Committee's report, and the Committee's full report on its website.

The Committee also had a debate on its report on 16 October where it pressed the Government on these issues. You can read the debate here.

The Government responded to the Committee's report on 17 October. The Government fully accepted four out of 23 of the Committee's recommendations and confirmed that it is:

  • Engaging with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and a range of housing sector stakeholders to identify and reduce property related barriers to childminding
  • Developing a national campaign "to boost interest in the sector"
  • Removing barriers to entering the sector by ensuring qualifications are suitable and easily understood
  • Introducing new types of apprenticeship for becoming a childcare professional

You can read the Government's response here.

What is the Education Committee?

The Education Committee is a cross-party group of backbench MPs that scrutinises the administration, spending and policy of the Government’s Department for Education.

The Education Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work.

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