Affordable Childcare

Education – in the House of Commons at on 27 February 2023.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

What steps she is taking to improve access to affordable childcare.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Improving parents’ access to affordable childcare is a Government priority. We are working with the Department for Work and Pensions and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to deliver the childcare choices campaign to raise awareness among parents and providers of the Government-funded subsidies available to support families.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

With the Budget coming up, will the Government look at how reducing the cost of childcare could help productivity by supporting women who want to go back into the workplace and bringing back over-50s who may have retired early partly to look after grandchildren?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

My right hon. Friend is right that childcare is about supporting women and parents into the labour market. We want to support families and are exploring options to achieve this. The Government have delivered a huge amount on childcare, including doubling the 15-hour entitlement for working parents of three to four-year-olds to 30 hours and introducing 15 free hours for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

On Saturday, I met a constituent who was about to return to work from her maternity leave after having her second child. Her childcare costs for a three-year-old and a one-year-old will be £2,700 a month. Spiralling childcare costs are an unbearable cost of living pressure for many families, so what discussions has the Minister had with the Treasury about tackling this unsustainable pressure, and can parents and providers expect to see the urgent change that is needed in the forthcoming Budget?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I understand that it is a challenging time with the cost of living and with childcare. I would say it is the Conservative Government who have done the most of any party to expand hourly entitlements. We expanded the hours for three to four-year-olds, we have introduced 15 hours for disadvantaged two-year-olds, we have introduced the holidays and activities fund—by the way, 70% of those participating in 2021 said that they had never been to anything like that before—and we have doubled the number of families in recent years who have taken up tax-free childcare.