The government annually collects and reviews data on childcare affordability. The childcare providers and parent surveys are published annually as official statistics. These include data on childcare fees, the amount parents pay for childcare and parents’ experiences of childcare affordability. These are used extensively by the government to inform policy development and understand how existing policies benefit parents.
In September 2010, 15 hours of free weekly childcare was introduced for all children aged 3 to 4, which was extended from September 2017 to 30 hours for working parents of 3 to 4-year-olds. In 2013, 15 hours of free weekly childcare was introduced for disadvantaged 2-year-olds. Tax-free childcare was launched in April 2017, giving eligible families up to £2,000 free per child towards childcare costs for children aged under 12. As part of Universal Credit, parents can claim up to 85% of their childcare costs.
The government will spend around £3.5 billion on early education entitlements this year alone – more than any other government. More than 700,000 of the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds have benefited from 15 hours free childcare since 2013, and more than 340,000 3 and 4-year-olds benefitted from our 30 hours offer in its first year, meaning parents are spending less on childcare or are able to work more flexibly.
The government entitlements are supporting as many families as possible with access to high quality, affordable childcare. Parents using the 30 hours can save up to £5,000 per year on the costs of childcare, and almost 4 in 5 parents using the 30 hours, report having more money to spend as a result.