To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of affordability of childcare for children under the age of five; and if he will make a statement.
The childcare sufficiency assessments which all local authorities were required to complete by
This Government recognise that childcare costs are a serious matter for some families in some areas, which is why we are doing more than ever before to make good quality childcare and early education accessible and affordable.
We are investing £3 billion per year to support free early education, so all three and four year olds, irrespective of the employment status of their parents, can benefit from 12.5 hours of free early years provision for 38 weeks per year. This increases to 15 hours by 2010 and will be delivered more flexibly to meet families' needs. In addition, we announced in the Children's Plan an additional £100 million to pilot a free entitlement for 20,000 of our most disadvantaged two year olds.
We provide substantial help (totalling over £3 million a day) through the tax credit system, in providing up to 80 per cent. of childcare costs. This helps nearly 450,000 families, with nearly 280,000 of these families being those with children under the age of five.
The budget increased the commitment to childcare by announcing additional pilots to support new approaches to childcare, building on good practice from the additional childcare support provided by the £33 million London Childcare Affordability Programme. In addition, the Government will also pilot new child development grants of 200 in 10 local authority areas, payable where parents take up their childcare places and have contact with their local Children's Centre.