Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to bring in his plans of doubling free childcare for working parents in England early to September 2016.
According to Express, Cameron said that childcare for parents of three and four-year-old children will be escalated to 30 hours a week. In addition to £2,500 that parents already gain from existing childcare plans, the latest move will allow them to save another £5,000 a year.
All three and four-year-old children in England are given 570 hours a year of free early education or childcare, which comes out as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks. The prime minister also intends to introduce the new measures by next year, a year in advance as planned.
He said, “My message is clear – this Government is on the side of working people – helping them get on and supporting them at every stage of life. That is exactly why we are pressing ahead with these reforms, going further than ever before to help with childcare costs, helping hardworking families and giving people the opportunity to get into work.”
CBI’s deputy director-general, Katja Hall, said, “It’s good to see the Government shining the spotlight on childcare and lending a helping hand to working families. Many parents want to come back to work or put in more hours after having a child, but can’t because of soaring childcare costs.
“Increasing free childcare provision is an important step to enabling parents to pursue their careers, and to allowing businesses to retain skilled and talented employees.”
According to The Independent, the move will be implemented in certain parts of the nation in September 2016.
However, findings by the Pre-school Learning Alliance of private and voluntary childcare providers show that as the hours sponsored by the government are underfunded, the new scheme could create a monetary difference of £350 million. This gap would thereby have to be bridged by other parents who rates would in turn climb up to subsidize the scheme.
If the plan were to proceed with the current rates, private, voluntary and independent groups could suffer a loss of £661 a year for every three and four-year-old child, as reported by BBC.
Specialist research group Ceeda calculated that the scheme could cost the sector approximately £1.95 billion a year. However, the current funding tallies £1.7 billion, creating a gap of £250 million.
Chief Executive Neil Leitch said, “Extending funded hours without first tacking this shortfall is clearly only going to make a bad situation worse.
“While we of course welcome the drive to improve the availability of childcare in this country, these figures clearly show the government’s plan to extend funded childcare hours simply cannot work without a substantial increase in sector funding.
“The so-called ‘free’ childcare scheme is nothing of the sort. For years now, the initiative has been subsidised by providers and parents because of a lack of adequate government funding.”
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