Minister Assures Families Will Still Receive Expanded Free Childcare Despite Delays


The UK government has pledged that no families will be excluded from the expanded free childcare system, despite difficulties in its implementation. The scheme, which promises 15 hours of free childcare per week to some working parents from April, has encountered technical issues and delays. The government has announced a workaround for a known IT problem and has assured parents that they will receive the childcare they are eligible for. However, campaigners accuse the government of denying the extent of the problem.

From April, working parents of two-year-olds will receive 15 hours of free childcare per week during term time, with children from nine months included from September. By September 2025, working parents of children under five will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week. However, issues with the rollout have led to warnings that parents may not be able to access the first year of the scheme.

The Early Years Alliance (EYA) has stated that many childcare providers are uncertain about their funding rate from April, making planning difficult. In some cases, providers have been unable to accept applications through the scheme. The EYA also highlights ongoing issues with underfunding and recruitment in the sector.

The Labour party has accused the government of mishandling a key promise and has proposed plans to increase childcare provision.

The Department for Education (DfE) has said it has resolved an IT issue that prevented some parents from accessing necessary codes for securing a place with a childcare provider. Childcare Minister David Johnston has assured that no families will miss out due to technical issues.

The new scheme is expected to cost an additional £4.1bn per year by 2027-28, bringing the total annual spending on childcare to £8bn. Demand for childcare places is predicted to increase by about 15% by the time the expansion is implemented.

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