The Government’s spring budget has revealed a support package for parents of young children which will enable mothers in particular, to stay in work and help boost the economy.

Childcare is one of the biggest expenses for working families today and the Government is committed to making it cheaper and more accessible so that parents can remain in their careers without having to make the difficult decision to have children or a career. In a fair society, people should be able to have both a family and a job which will carry multiple benefits for their own personal lives as well as the nation at large.

Currently, up to 85 percent of childcare costs can be claimed back. However, by the summer of 2023, funds will be accessible upfront to make it easier for parents on Universal Credit to find employment or increase their hours. This removes any gap in funds and eases parents into the childcare costs payment cycle.

At the moment, parents who work more than 16 hours a week and earn less than £100,000 are entitled to thirty hours of free childcare per week for children aged three to four.

The scheme is now expanding so that from September 2024, eligible working parents of all children over the age of nine months will be entitled to 15 hours of free childcare which will increase to the full 30 hours by September 2025, and from April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare.

This staged roll-out will give childcare providers time to prepare for the changes, ensuring there are enough providers ready to meet the demand. The hourly rate paid by the government to childcare providers will also be increased to enable them to deliver their existing 30 hours entitlement.

From September, the staff-to-child ratio will be increased to allow one member of staff to care for five children instead of the current four. These changes will be optional, giving providers more flexibility in how they run their businesses and bring ratio requirements in line with those of other countries.

Local authorities and schools will be given more funding for ‘wraparound care’ so that parents of school-age children can access childcare in their local area from 8am to 6pm.

It is hoped that most primary schools will be able to provide their own before and after school care by September 2026.