Childcare and Pre-school Education

Department for Education written question – answered at on 14 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Weir of Ballyholme Lord Weir of Ballyholme DUP

To ask His Majesty's Government what consultations have taken place with the childcare and early years sectors regarding ways to expand childcare provision.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

The department is delivering the largest expansion of childcare in England’s history. Already, over 210,000 two year olds are confirmed to have places for 15 hours a week of free childcare, as part of the largest ever expansion of childcare in England, and the rates for the new entitlements have been independently confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to be well above market rates. The department will continue to support the sector’s expansion with £400 million of additional funding provided to uplift hourly rates next year and a guarantee that rates will increase in line with cost pressures for two years after that.

As part of the expansion, the department has held a number of consultations with the sector, including on proposals to support childminders and childminder agencies (closes 10 May) and on an experience-based route for early years practitioners (closes 20 May). The department is also consulting on proposed changes to safeguarding requirements in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework (closes 17 June). The department has also consulted on the EYFS to seek views on a range of proposals to remove burdens and to offer greater flexibility for providers within the EYFS while maintaining quality and safety standards, which included changes to staff:child ratios. The department is considering all responses as part of ongoing policy development.

The number of childcare places has increased by 40,000 in 2023 compared with 2018. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that the provision of childcare is sufficient to meet the requirements of parents in their area. The department has regular contact with each local authority in England about their sufficiency of childcare, including supporting them through the department’s childcare delivery support contract where appropriate. The department is in regular contact with all local authorities and none of them are reporting that they have insufficient places to meet local demand.

On top of funding reforms, the department is providing significant support for local authorities to deliver the early years expansion from April, such as:

  • Appointing a delivery support contractor, Childcare Works, to provide local authorities with support, advice, guidance and best practice sharing to help them deliver the expansion and deliver enough childcare places for residents.
  • Providing £12 million of delivery support funding to local authorities in the 2023/24 financial year to help them meet the costs associated with the rollout.

The department will continue to work closely with the sector on the implementation of these reforms at every stage. In order to make sure there are enough places across the country for everyone that needs them, the department has already begun investing hundreds of millions of pounds to increase hourly funding rates and is allocating £100 million in capital funding for more early years and wrapround places and spaces.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.