Queen’s Speech 2015: Free childcare access to double

The BBC is reporting that measures announced in the Queen’s Speech will mean access to free childcare for three-and-four-year-olds in England is to double to 30 hours a week…

If passed, the childcare bill will grant the entitlement to families where all parents are working.

The changes aim to help 600,000 children a year from 2017.

However, nursery providers say the existing scheme is underfunded with the budget for free childcare falling 20% short of the cost of provision.

Neil Leitch, of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “As a result, many are being forced to increase the cost of paid-for hours [those hours above and beyond the free entitlement], resulting in higher childcare costs for parents.”

The group represents the owners of 14,000 childcare groups across England…

Currently, all three-and-four-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours a year of free early education or childcare at nurseries, play and pre-school groups, Sure Start children’s centres, or with childminders. Two-year-olds from the poorest families also qualify.

The 570 hours equate to 15 hours a week over a 38-week school year but can be spread over the year.

Mr Cameron had said this was an improvement on the “shocking” situation the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition inherited in 2010, “where couples were spending as much on childcare as one of them took home in earnings”…

More at: Queen’s Speech 2015: Free childcare access to double


So is this good news or a significant issue for childcare providers if the scheme fails to deliver enough funds to cover the costs involved?

I know from interviews I have conducted that the current scheme has been extremely difficult for many early years providers as they have found it extremely challenging – to but it mildly – to deliver childcare for the £4.51 per child per hour they are given by the government.

Your insights and feedback on this? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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