Published: 9 September 2013
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has promised that the government will help to support parents by offering free childcare to Britain's poorest families. Currently, 20% of all two-year-olds receive free childcare and this is expected to double in September next year.
As part of his 'Making Britain Fit For Modern Families' speech, Nick Clegg's plan is to increase free childcare to encourage more modern working families, which in turn will help to boost this country's economy.
In his speech the Deputy Prime Minister said, "From today, if you’re a parent on a low income with a two-year-old in the family you’ll qualify for up to 15 hours a week of free early education for your child. This free support is focused on helping the families that need it most. That’s around 130,000 two-year-olds – one in every five two-year-olds and from this time next year, we will extend that helping hand even further, doubling the number of youngsters getting a brighter start in life."
Nick Clegg also added, "All the evidence shows that if you take two children – two five-year-olds hanging up their coats next to each other on the first day of school – the poorer child will already be behind their better off classmate before a single lesson has been taught. Without this help, children suffer and the whole class suffers as teachers have to focus more of their efforts on children who are frustrated and left behind through no fault of their own."
"I believe that every British family, whatever its structure, background and circumstances should be able to get on in life."
What this means for families is that from September 2014, the number of two-year-olds who are eligible for free childcare will be increased to 260,000 by making help available to low income families on less than £16,190 per year and who receive Working Tax Credits. This increase in support will effect 40% of all two-year-olds in the UK.
Many other children will also benefit from these new government plans. Children that have been adopted or that are in care will also benefit, as will disabled children or those that have specific education needs. Overall, the amount of investment will have risen from £534 million to £760 million in order to give young children a better start in life.
There are also plans to help families even further in the coming years to support the government's commitment to making Britain fit for modern families. In 2014, every employee will have the right to request flexible working hours to help with childcare arrangements. In 2015, childcare will be tax-free for families who have a joint income less than £150,000 per year.
The government will also provide 20% of childcare costs, which is the equivalent of £1,200 per child per year. In 2016, the overall childcare contribution from the government will be raised from 70% to 85% so that lone parents or working couples who receive Universal Credit will see their costs reduced, which is set to benefit 200,000 working families in the UK.