Working parents in Wigan will be leading the way as they benefit from 30 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year olds a year before it is rolled out nationwide.
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah has today announced £13 million for some councils, including Wigan, to offer the extended entitlement to some parents from September 2016.
The extra hours of childcare will make it easier for these parents to work and is another move designed to meet the Government’s commitment to make work pay.
They will be supported by several Early Innovators, which will look at how the offer works in specific circumstances, including for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
In the North West, this will be Stockport, Bolton, Trafford, Cheshire West & Chester, and Bury. Their experiences will then be used to support the full rollout in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement.
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said:
“For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier to working parents and particularly mothers. That’s why I’m delighted that in just a few months’ time, we will see the first families in Wigan benefitting from the government’s offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents.
“We have made a commitment to help hardworking people, and through this extended offer, we are helping parents return to work, if they choose to do so.”
All three- and four-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, and this is also extended to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds. Last year, more than 1 million three- and four-year-olds, and 157,000 two-year-olds benefited from this offer.
But the government is now going further, and will deliver an additional 15 free hours to working parents of three- and four-year-olds from September 2017.
Childcare Minister, Sam Gyimah, said:
“I know how important childcare is from my own personal experience, and I couldn’t be more determined to make sure we give children the best start in life, support parents to work, and as a result, allow our country to prosper.
“I’m pleased that we are investing in childcare, and I’m looking forward to seeing how working parents in Wigan benefit from 30 hours free childcare, before we roll the offer out to the rest of the country.”
Working parents in Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will benefit from the early offer from this September.
They will be supported by 25 Early Innovators nationwide, so that the free hours are tested across the country, in a range of different types of childcare market, and addressing a number of potential difficulties.