Parents looking to return to work will benefit from a range of measures in the spring Budget to help with childcare.
Childcare costs in the UK are among the highest in the world and a significant barrier to working for parents, especially mothers. The plans are designed to encourage more people back to work to boost economic growth.
The increase in free childcare will be rolled out in stages to keep pace with increasing supply of childcare services:
- From April 2024, all working parents of two-year-olds will be entitled to 15 hours a week.
- From September 2024, working parents of children aged 9 months to three years will be able to access 15 hours a week.
- From September 2025, working parents of children aged 9 months to three years will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare a week.
Free childcare will be provided for 38 weeks a year but where parents need it for more than 38 weeks, they will be able to spread their free hours over a higher number of weeks. To increase availability of childcare the government will increase the hourly rate paid to providers for the free hours and reduce staff-to-child ratios for two-year-olds from 1:4 to 1:5.