To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on the operation of childcare providers and nurseries of the increase in free childcare to 30 hours per week; and what plans he has to increase funding to ensure that the current level of provision is maintained.
Although childcare providers do not have to offer the 30 hours entitlement, our 2018 Provider Survey shows that the majority of nurseries and childcare providers who take three and four-year-olds are offering 30 hours places.
Nearly 36,000 nurseries and childcare providers delivered 30 hours places in the second year of the programme. Around 600,000 children have benefitted from a 30 hours place in the first two years of delivery. Nurseries and childcare providers can choose whether to offer the entitlements and can then do so in ways which meet the needs of their business, within the confines of the statutory guidance.
As part of the Department’s commitment to support early years providers in delivering high quality care and education, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently announced funding to increase hourly rates for the Government’s free hours offers for 2020-21. In total, the Department plans to spend over £3.6 billion on our early education entitlements next year.