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Commission an independent review of childcare funding and affordability

Submitted by Joeli Brearley on Thursday 20th May 2021

Published on Wednesday 26th May 2021

Current status: Open

Open until: Friday 26th November 2021

Current Signatures: 113,372
(count is updated approximately hourly)

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

2021 ~ Child ~ Children ~ commission ~ Economy ~ England ~ Ensure ~ Forced ~ Forces ~ Full Time ~ Government ~ IMPACT ~ independence ~ level ~ month ~ system ~ Time ~ Up

Petition Action

Commission an independent review of childcare funding and affordability

Petition Details

We have the second most expensive childcare system in the world. A full time place costs, on average, £14,000 per year, making it completely unaffordable for many families. Parents are forced to leave their jobs or work fewer hours, which has a negative impact on the economy and on child poverty.

Additional Information

Childcare workers are paid so badly that 1 in 10 are officially living in poverty. Meanwhile, a lack of funding has resulted in 2,087 childcare settings closing in England in the first 3 months of 2021 when provision was already low. Without good quality, affordable childcare the 'levelling up' agenda will fail. An independent review would explore what the Government needs to do to ensure we have a childcare sector that works for families, children and the economy.

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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Wednesday 23rd June 2021

The Government is not currently planning a review of the childcare system. Support is available to help with childcare costs, and the Government monitors the sustainability of childcare providers.

We know that the cost of childcare is a key concern for parents which is why the government has made an unprecedented investment in childcare over the past decade.

All three- and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare each week, providing children with high-quality early education and helping parents to return to work. Disadvantaged families in England are also eligible for 15 hours of free early education a week for their two- year-old children.

30 hours free childcare was introduced in England in September 2017 and is an entitlement for working parents of three- and four-year-olds, benefitting around 345,700 children in January 2020. It aims to help working parents with the costs of childcare so they can take up paid work if they want to or can work additional hours. To be eligible, both parents, or a single parent, must earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum/ living wage (for parents aged 23 or over, this would work out at just over £7,400 per year) and less than £100,000 per year.

All the department’s entitlements provide free early education for parents across 38 weeks of the year. They can also be “stretched” if parents wish to use fewer hours over more weeks and this is an option their childcare provider offers.

We have spent over £3.5bn in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements and the government continues to support families with their childcare costs. The Chancellor announced on 25 November 2020 a £44 million investment for 2021-22, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers.

In addition to the free early education entitlements, the government offers Tax-Free Childcare for children from 0-11 years old, or up to 16 if disabled. 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, or £4,000 if disabled.

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.

Data published by Ofsted shows that the number of childcare places available in providers on the Early Years Register as of August 2020 has remained broadly stable since August 2015.

The Department currently offers a range of support to early years settings during the pandemic, such as the furlough scheme (where settings have experienced a drop in either their income from parents or government), Business Rates Relief Nurseries Discount and support from the Recovery Loan Scheme.

As childminders are usually self-employed, they may benefit from the continuation of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
Further information regarding business support packages can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

We are committed to supporting the sector to develop a workforce with the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to deliver high quality early education and childcare. We are investing £20m in high quality, evidence-based professional development for practitioners in targeted disadvantaged areas.

In February 2021, we announced a further £10m for a pre-reception early language recovery programme to support early years staff in settings, and in June, we announced a further investment of up to £153 million over three academic years, including funding for training early years staff to support the very youngest children’s learning and development.

We are not currently planning a review of early years funding, but we continue to evaluate the support on offer and endeavour to provide support to both parents and providers to ensure the sustainability of the sector.

Department for Education

Parliamentary Debate

This petition was debated in Parliament on Monday 13th September 2021

See Debate Details

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