Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah has today announced £13million for eight councils across the country to deliver 30 hours of free childcare for parents of three and four-year-olds a year ahead of schedule. Working parents in the county as well as in Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will now benefit from the early offer from this September.
The core group of councils will be supported by 25 others, which will look specifically at innovative ways of making sure childcare is accessible to as many parents as possible. Their experiences will then be used to support the full roll-out in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement.
Berwick's Conservative MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: "This is great news for working parents across Northumberland. Doubling the amount of free childcare for working parents was a key pledge in the Conservative manifesto and I am delighted that we are delivering on it a year early in Northumberland. High childcare costs can be a real barrier for parents, in particular mothers, and I am pleased they will be more able to return to work should they choose to."
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.
Mr 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 benefit from 30 hours' free childcare, before we roll the offer out to the rest of the country."
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan added: "For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier preventing parents and particularly mothers from working. That's why I'm delighted that in just a few months' time, we will see the first families benefiting from the government’s offer of 30 hours' free childcare for working parents. We have made a commitment to help working people, and through this extended offer we will help thousands more parents who want to return to work to do so."