In today’s Budget, Jeremy Hunt unveiled a series of announcements intended to improve the long-broken issue.
It may have come as a surprise after it appeared Rishi Sunak’s government had U-turned on childcare reform, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt instead laid out a number of new initiatives in today’s Budget.
Hunt called the new package a “revolution” in childcare support.
Perhaps the biggest announcement came with the news that working families will have access to 30 hours free childcare per week for children aged between nine months and four years. Hunt said this will be phased in until every single eligible working parent of under-5s gets this support by September 2025.
To support parents on Universal Credit move into work or increase their hours, the government said they will increase the amount of UC support for childcare costs by almost 50% and will pay this upfront instead of in arrears.
The maximum recipients can claim will also be boosted to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children – an increase of around 50%.
In a bid to encourage more people to become childminders – hoping to halt a profession which is enduring a staffing crisis – new joiners will receive incentive payments of £600, rising to £1,200 for those joining through an agency.
The Chancellor also revealed he wants all school to have wraparound care between 8am and 6pm by 2026. This is intended to be achieved either by the school providing it themselves, or with outside partnerships.
All this could be moot of course, considering opinion polls show the Conservatives losing the next general election. In response to Hunt, Labour leader Keir Starmer said his party was already in favour of improved childcare support.
Working parents however will be buoyed by Hunt’s proposed changes, considering the crisis the issue currently faces.