Childcare and Pre-school Education

Department for Education written question – answered at on 10 May 2023.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the free education and childcare for 2-year-olds announced in the Spring Budget 2023, HC 1183, published on 15 March 2023, what assessment her Department has made of the need to ensure access to support for terminally ill parents who are unable to work due to their condition.

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to additional support for childcare costs announced in the Spring Budget 2023, HC 1183, published on 15 March 2023, whether her Department is taking steps to help support terminally ill parents with dependent children who are unable to work with the cost of childcare.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Hearing that your illness cannot be cured must be a frightening and devastating experience. In the Spring Budget 2023, the government announced a number of transformative reforms to childcare for parents, children, and the economy. Whilst terminally ill parents do not explicitly form part of the eligibility criteria for any entitlement, these parents may be able to access the existing offers that support low-income or non-working households, such as the universal 15-hour offer for all 3 and 4-year-olds and the 15-hour offer for disadvantaged 2-year-olds. Parents are eligible for the 2-year-old offer if they are low-income and in receipt of certain benefits, such as Universal Credit, or if the child is looked after, previously looked after, or has an Education, Health and Care plan.

Low-income families who are eligible for Universal Credit will still have up to 85% of their childcare costs covered. In the Spring Budget, we announced changes that will ensure these families have support with their childcare costs upfront when they need it, rather than in arrears. The government is also increasing support for these families by increasing the childcare cost maximum amounts to £950 for one child and £1,629 for two children.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides terminally ill people, including parents, with financial support quickly and compassionately through the benefits system. The main way that DWP does this is through special benefit rules, sometimes referred to as the Special Rules. These enable people who are nearing the end of their lives to get faster, easier access to certain benefits, without needing to attend a medical assessment, serve waiting periods and in most cases, receive the highest rate of benefit.

From 3 April 2023, people who have 12-months or less to live can claim Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Attendance Allowance under the special rules.

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