This government is committed to making childcare more affordable and accessible. That is why the government offers a package of free childcare entitlements: 15 hours of free childcare a week for disadvantaged 2-year-olds; universal 15 hours for all 3- and 4-year-olds; and an additional 15 hours (30 hours free childcare) for eligible working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds.
We introduced 30 hours free childcare for working families in September 2017. Many parents want to return to work and 30 hours free childcare supports them to do so. Responses to the Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents show that in 2019, parents who applied for the 30 hours did so to maintain (39%) or increase (21%) their working hours. We are clear that the 30 hours offer aims to support eligible working families with the cost of childcare, and to support parents back into work, or to work more hours should they wish to, saving parents up to £5,000 per year in total if they use the full 30 hours. The 2019 Parents Survey backs this, with 78% of parents reporting improved family finances whilst using 30 hours.
There is a wide range of support available for parents with childcare costs outside of the free early education entitlements, including for parents of children under the age of 3. With Tax-Free Childcare, for every £8 parents pay their provider via an online account, the government will pay £2 – up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child each year (up to £500 every 3 months), for children under 12. Eligible families can also get help with up to 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit, subject to a monthly limit.