The department does not directly offer childcare places, but it does support the take up of places, and each local authority has a duty to ensure that there are sufficient childcare places for all parents that need them.
The department has invested more than £3.5 billion in each of the last three years to deliver early education entitlements. All three and four-year-old children can access 15 hours of free childcare a week. We have doubled this for three and four-year-olds in families with working parents, saving them over £6,000 a year. The 15 hours of free childcare is also available for two-year-olds from lower-income families. The department recently announced that it is investing additional funding for these entitlements worth £160 million in 2022/23, £180 million in 2023/24 and £170 million in the 2024/25 financial years, compared to the 2021/22 financial year.
Outside of school hours, children aged five and above can access wraparound childcare, holiday childcare and other out-of-school settings that provide childcare. The department’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme supported more than 600,000 children last summer with free holiday club places. We are making more than £600 million available to local authorities in England over the next three years for the HAF programme, so that we can continue to provide disadvantaged children and families with access to clubs that provide healthy food and enriching activities during the longer school holidays.