Pre-school Education: Enfield North

Department for Education written question – answered on 15th September 2021.

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Photo of Feryal Clark Feryal Clark Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps his Department is taking to support (a) nurseries, (b) childminders and (c) other early years providers in Enfield North.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government has put unprecedented investment into the early years sector over the last decade, including over £3.5 billion in each of the past 3 years on our early education entitlements, as well as investing £44 million for the 2021/22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers.

In 2017 we introduced Tax-Free Childcare, which is available for parents of children aged 0-11 (or up to 16 if their child is disabled). Tax-Free Childcare uses the same income thresholds as 30 hours free childcare and contributes an additional 20% towards their childcare costs. This scheme can save parents up to £2,000 per year (or up to £4,000 for children with disabilities). In June 2021, 308,000 families used Tax-Free Childcare.

Working parents on a low income may also be eligible for help with up to 85% of their childcare costs (for children under 16) through Universal Credit Childcare. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children, payable in arrears.

We have also provided unprecedented support to early years providers during the COVID-19 outbreak, and settings have also had access to a range of business support packages, including the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. As long as the staff in the nursery schools affected meet the criteria for the scheme, early years providers are still able to furlough their staff while that scheme remains in operation (for example, if settings have to close temporarily to manage local effects of COVID-19, such as infections).

We also have a number of government reforms to support the childminding profession and have made it easier to work as a childminder. These reforms include making it easier for childminders to access government funding, allowing them to work for up to half their time on non-domestic premises, and the creation of childminder agencies details for which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childminder-agencies-list-of-agencies.

We continue to work with the early years sector and officials from the Department for Education regularly speak with Enfield Council’s Early Years team to understand how they can best be supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate, and affordable childcare is available for those who need it now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.

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