What does the new budget mean for me?
The latest government budget was released yesterday with announcements made about changes to childcare support and allowances from next year. Jeremy Hunt made comment on the current expense of childcare being 'expensive'.
"We have one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world. For many women a career break becomes a career end. I today announce that in eligible households where adults are working at least 16 hours, we will introduce 30 hours of free childcare, not just for 3 and 4 year olds, but for every single child over the age of 9 months. It is a package worth on average £6,500 every year for a family with a 2 year old child using 35 hours of childcare every week and reduces their childcare costs by nearly 60%. Working parents of 2 year olds will be able to access 15 hours of free child care from April 2024, helping around half a million parents. From September 2024, that 15 hours will be extended to all children from 9 months up, meaning a total of nearly 1 million parents will be eligible. And from September 2025 every single working parent of under 5's will have access to 30 hours free childcare per week." Jeremy Hunt 15/3/23
As stated, the new policy will be rolled out in stages, for those eligible:
Two year olds will get 15 hours from April 2024
9 month olds and up will get 15 hours from September 2024
All children 9 months-5 years will get 30 hours from September 2025
Who is eligible?
The new system is set to follow the current means-testing set out for the 3-4 year olds 30 hours funding. High earners of over £100k won't be able to fully access the benefits.
What else is being implemented with these changes?
The child to staff ratio in nurseries will rise, hoping to help nurseries reduce staffing costs. They have also released an incentive for childcare workers by giving a £600 one-off sign-up bonus! This will be rolled out as a pilot scheme, to encourage more individuals to become childcare workers. Jeremy Hunt also made comment on wraparound care, increasing wraparound care for school-aged parents from 8.00am-6.00pm by September 2026.
What am I currently entitled to?
The 30 Hours Free Childcare policy was introduced in September 2017 and provides eligible parents with 30 hours of free childcare per week for their three and four-year-old children. This policy aims to support working families and to enable parents to return to work or work for longer hours without the burden of high childcare costs.
To be eligible for the 30 hours free childcare, parents need to meet certain criteria, including:
- Both parents (or the sole parent in a single-parent family) are working and earning at least the equivalent of 16 hours at the national minimum wage or living wage.
- Their income doesn't exceed £100,000 per year.
- The child is aged three or four years old and is not yet in reception class in primary school.
Parents who are eligible for the 30 hours free childcare can use it at participating
nurseries, childminders or preschools. They will need to apply online for an eligibility code and give it to their chosen childcare provider before their child starts attending.
In addition to the 30 hours free childcare, parents can also claim for 15 hours of free early education for their three and four-year-old children under the Universal Credit scheme.
Overall, the 30 Hours Free Childcare policy has helped many working families in the UK, but there have been some concerns about the financial sustainability of the policy for childcare providers and the impact on the quality of early years education.
You can find out more via the link: 30 hours free childcare - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Tell us your thoughts on the latest budget... Will you benefit from the changes?