Ellie Ames 26 September 2023

Childcare expansion has ‘little to offer’ poorest families

Childcare expansion has ‘little to offer’ poorest families  image
Image: Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock.com.

The free childcare expansion continues a trend of prioritising support for working parents rather than helping low-income families, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said.

By September 2025, eligible working families will be offered up to 30 hours a week of funded term-time care for children aged nine months until they start school.

Currently, 30-hour funded places are only available for three and four-year-olds in working families.

An IFS study found that the poorest third of families will see almost no direct benefit from the expansion of free childcare.

IFS associate director and report author Christine Farquharson said: ‘These new entitlements are another big step towards an early years system focused on helping parents to work – with much less to say about reducing inequalities in children’s development’.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘As well as announcing the biggest ever expansion to free childcare for working parents, we have also almost doubled childcare support for the most financially vulnerable and by 2027-28 we expect to be spending £8bn a year to help parents with affordable childcare.

‘On top of this we’re investing more than £3.5bn to help thousands, including parents, return to work and grow the economy.’

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