Recently the Chancellor has announced that free childcare will be extended to 30 hours for every child over the age of nine months by September 2025 in the 2023 budget. This move is aimed at helping working families with young children by reducing the financial burden of childcare. The current limit for free childcare is 15 hours, so this increase will provide a significant boost for parents.
The measure will be introduced in phases, with 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of two-year-olds coming into effect in April 2024 and 15 hours of free childcare for working parents of nine months to three years old in September 2024.
The extended childcare support will cover over £4.1bn by 2027-28 and the eligibility criteria will match the existing three to four-year-old 30 hours offer. The funding paid to nurseries for the existing free hours offers will also be increased by £204m from this September 2023, rising to £288m next year. Schools and local authorities will be funded to increase the supply of wraparound care so that parents of school-age children can drop their children off between 8 am and 6 pm – tackling the barriers to working caused by the limited availability of wraparound care.
The childcare costs of parents moving into work or increasing their hours on Universal Credit will be paid up front rather than in arrears, with the maximum claim increased to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children – an increase of around 50%.
In recognition of both the importance and short supply of childminders, incentive payments of £600 will be piloted from autumn of this year for those who sign up to the profession (rising to£1,200 for those who join through an agency) to increase the number available and increase choice and affordability for parents.
To be eligible for the extended 30-hour free childcare offer, parents must meet certain criteria. This includes working a minimum of16 hours per week and earning less than £100,000 per year. This offer is also available for children aged 3 and 4 years old, as well as some 2-year-olds from low-income families.
The government has also committed to investing in early years education, with an extra £500 million being allocated to the sector. This investment will help to improve the quality of early years education, providing children with the best possible start in life.
This announcement has been welcomed by many parents and childcare providers, who have been campaigning for an increase in free childcare for some time. The extension of free childcare is set to make a real difference to the lives of many families, and it is a positive step towards creating a more equal society.
If you are a parent who is interested in taking advantage of the extended free childcare offer, it is important to check your eligibility and find out how to apply. You can find out more information on the government's website or by contacting your local authority.
Overall, the Budget 2023 has brought some positive changes for families in the UK. The extension of free childcare to 30 hours per week isa significant step towards supporting working parents and creating a more equal society. With the government's commitment to investing in early years education, we can hope to see even more positive changes in the future.
We’ve recently shared another post on the budget, you can read them in our blog ‘Spring Budget 2023’.
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