DUP wins six-month reprieve for childcare voucher scheme

The Government has announced a six-month delay on plans to end a system of childcare vouchers after representations by the DUP.  Education Secretary Damian Hinds made the concession at the end of a Commons debate called by Labour, after a question from the DUP. The Belfast Telegraph reports. 

The DUP, whose 10 MPs usually back the Government in major votes, has in the past opposed the abolition of the vouchers.

South Belfast MP Emma Little-Pengelly said: “Could the Secretary of State agree with me that, given the concerns raised across this House in relation to the April closure of the childcare voucher scheme, that there should be a delay on the closure of that scheme to allow for the concerns to be addressed?”

Mr Hinds replied: “I have heard the concerns that have been raised about this and the timing, and I can confirm that we will be able to keep the voucher scheme open for a further six months to new entrants, following representations that she has made.”

Much of the debate focused on plans to introduce a means test for families on Universal Credit to receive free school meals.

All families who are on Universal Credit are currently able to claim free school meals, as part of a package of measures to help the transition to the new benefits system. In England the net earnings threshold will be £7,400, whereas in Northern Ireland it will be £14,000, MPs heard.

Read more DUP wins six-month reprieve for childcare voucher scheme

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