Background to the Changes
The UK government has announced a £204 million investment in early years, the largest ever in England.
The funding will be used to increase the hourly rates paid to nurseries and childminders who offer government-funded hours to parents. This will make childcare more affordable for parents and help to improve the quality of early years provision.
Increased Funding Rates
The funding rates per child have risen from an average of £5.29 to £5.62 for three and four-year-olds, while two-year-old funding has increased from an average of £6.00 to £7.95.
The government anticipates setting the average rate paid to local authorities for 2024/25 at £8.17 for two-year-olds and £11.06 for under twos, with a further increase in funding to come next year.
Free Childcare Hours
The government is also increasing the amount of free childcare available to parents. From April 2024, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will get a new offer of 15 free hours per week of free childcare.
From September 2024, eligible parents will get 15 free hours from nine months until their children start school, and from September 2025, they will get 30 free hours from nine months until the start of school.
Minister for Children and Families, David Johnston, said:
“This funding increase is another vital step in this government’s work with the early years sector to deliver the flexible, affordable, and quality childcare that parents need.”
“With yet another increase in funding coming next year, we are committed to supporting nurseries, childminders and everyone working with children in their vital early years to deliver on our biggest ever investment into childcare in England – set to save a working parent using 30 hours of childcare up to an average of £6,500 per year.”
Support for the Early Years Workforce
Alongside funding, the government is also supporting the early years workforce to deliver the biggest-ever investment in childcare in England.
This includes developing a national recruitment campaign and looking into how best to bring down registration times for childminders from up to four months to 10 weeks.