Six councils chosen to pilot free childcare extension

2 Feb 16

Six councils from across England are to be given £13m to pilot the government’s extension of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds later this year, ministers have announced.

Childcare minster Sam Gyimah said Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire had been chosen to take forward plans following a call for proposals.

These authorities will implement plans to double free childcare to 30 hours from September, a year before the entitlement is rolled out across the country.

All three- and four-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free childcare, but the extra hours are intended to make it easier for parents to work, Gyimah said.

It will be available to families where either both parents are working or there is a working single parent and they earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum wage levels and up to £100,000 a year.

“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,” Gyimah said.

“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.”

The Department for Education had called for councils to come forward with plans on how to implement the expansion of provision. It will also pilot a new contract with councils though the pilot schemes, and consult on a fairer funding formula for the early years.

The experience of the eight authorities will then be used to develop the national rollout of the scheme. It is expected the full national rollout will boost childcare spending by £1bn a year by 2019/20.

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