Free Childcare Entitlement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:48 pm on 6th September 2017.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Minister of State (Education) 12:48 pm, 6th September 2017

I am afraid that the hon. Lady’s rhetoric does not reflect the experience on the ground. I can update her: we predicted that about 75% of eligible parents would apply to the scheme, as there are some parents who for very good reasons, such as family childcare, would not apply. That figure would have been 200,000, so we have exceeded that prediction. I can confirm that only six days into September 152,829 parents have secured a place—71% of those parents. That is a great success story.

We responded to the sector’s concerns about funding; indeed, Frontier Economics carried out some detailed work for us and reported to the Department that the mean hourly delivery cost of childcare was £3.72 an hour. The amount of money that we are providing has increased from £4.56 to £4.94. My experience talking to nurseries up and down the country, including some in London, is that they can deliver for that price. Indeed, the pilot areas have delivered and some 15,000 children have benefited from 30 hours of free childcare, and the lessons learned from those pilot areas are being applied.