Expanding Childcare Provisions in GB

Posted in : HR Updates on 4 January 2024
Charlotte Eakin
Think People
Issues covered: Family Friendly Rights, Childcare

In March 2023’s Budget it was announced that the 30 hours of free childcare currently available for working parents in England is to be expanded to cover parents with children aged from nine months old. Currently this provision is only for children aged 3-4. It will be rolled out in stages from April 2024.

This change will provide vital support to working parents as a key concern for them is the expense of childcare, as confirmed by a study conducted by McKinsey, which highlighted that 45% of mothers with children aged five and under who leave the workforce cite childcare struggles as a major reason for their departure. Additionally, 24% stated they had considered reducing their hours to a part-time schedule. Therefore, the decision to expand childcare provisions will greatly benefit parents by reducing barriers that prevent some from going back to work, and subsequently encouraging them to stay in their roles. As such, companies can benefit from reduced turnover from those who may have felt forced to resign.

Who is eligible for 30 hours free childcare?

Currently, parents who work more than 16 hours a week and earn less than £100,000 are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week for children aged three to four. The expansion of the scheme will enable working parents of all children over the age of nine months to also be entitled to free 30 hours of childcare.

When will it start?

  1. From April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare.
  2. From September 2024, 15 hours of free childcare will be extended to all children from the age of nine months.
  3. From September 2025, working parents of children under the age of five will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week.

This staggered approach will give childcare providers time to plan for the changes, ensuring there are enough providers prepared to meet the expected demand. Childcare providers will also receive an increased hourly rate by the government to assist them in delivering the new entitlement.

Additionally in GB, there will be increased funding provided for parents of school-age children to benefit from childcare, in the form of breakfast and after-school clubs. It is anticipated that by September 2026, most primary schools will be able to provide their own before and after school care.

Applications for the first stage of the rollout will open on 2 January 2024. More information on how to apply can be found via ChildcareChoices.

Childcare Provisions in NI

Currently, there is no scheme for free childcare provision in NI and the expansion announced in the Spring Budget for the remainder of the UK will not be available in NI. A best practice approach for NI would be to implement a similar approach to that which the rest of GB has adopted but, as this is not the case currently, companies can achieve a competitive advantage by offering benefits relating to childcare provisions. This could be in the form of a workplace nursery or a contribution towards childcare costs which is a great way to attract and retain a talented workforce.

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This article is correct at 04/01/2024

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Charlotte Eakin
Think People

The main content of this article was provided by Charlotte Eakin. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email charlotte.eakin@aab.uk

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