To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps she has taken to help parents in work with the costs of childcare.
The Department for Education understands that the cost of childcare can be a concern for many parents. In order to help support parents, the Department has increased funding in the early years from £2 billion to £3 billion a year over the course of this Parliament.
The Department has provided funding for 15 hours a week of free childcare for all three- and four-year-olds, and for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The funding for all three- and four-year-olds is worth £2,500 per child, per year to parents. This gives an additional £425 per child, per year, when compared to funding prior to the last election. The funding for approximately 40% of two-year-olds is also worth £2,500 per child, per year.
In addition, the Department is introducing Tax-Free Childcare, under which up to 1.8 million working families could benefit from up to £2,000 per child, per year.
For working parents on lower incomes, working tax credit pays up to 70% of their childcare costs. This could be worth up to £6,370 for their first child. Under Universal Credit, the subsidy rate will increase to 85% of childcare costs and support will be available, for the first time, to those working fewer than 16 hours per week.
Furthermore, the Department has taken action to give more choice to parents by creating child minder agencies and supporting schools to open nurseries and offer provision from 8am to 6pm. The Department is also introducing shared parental leave.