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Free Childcare for Working Parents in 2024

November 29, 2023

Free childcare is a hotly debated topic. Today (29th November 2023), the government has announced that the first wave of applications for the largest ever expansion of free childcare for working parents, This will open on 2 January and the rollout of the new scheme will start in April 2024.

What does this mean for working parents?

Dad waving goodbye to chil

Eligible working parents of two-year-olds will be able to register to access 15 hours free childcare per week from April 2024. To be eligible, parents must be working a minimum of 16 hours per week and earn less than £30,000 per year.

How to register

The recommended time to register is between mid-January and the end of February. However, you can register at any time. To register, you will need to visit the government’s website and provide your child’s details.

What other support is available?

The government is also investing over £400 million in 2024-25. This will deliver a significant uplift to local authority hourly rates for childcare. This will help to ensure that enough places are available for working parents.

In addition, the government is offering up to £1,200 for new childminders.  They must have joined the profession or completed their registration on or after 15th March 2023. This is to support thousands of new childminders to enter the sector and create new, quality, childcare settings across the country.

What has PACEY said about the new scheme?

“We know that the ambitious plans for the expansion of early education and childcare will need to see growth right across our sector, and not least in the number of childminders,” said Helen Donohoe, Chief Executive of PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years).

“We therefore welcome the launch of the start-up grants scheme, for new and returning childminders, and look forward to working with all providers as more and more parents come on board.”

What does this mean for families?

The expansion of free childcare is a major step forward in helping working parents afford childcare. The new scheme will make it easier for parents to access affordable childcare and will help them to balance work and family life.

Additional support for parents on Universal Credit

The government is also offering ongoing support for the over two million parents on Universal Credit. Many of these parents could now also be eligible for up to £951 a month if they have one child.This will rise to £1,630 if they have two or more children.This will help cover the costs of their childcare bills – this marks a 47% boost in support.

How to find out more

You can find out more about the new scheme on the government’s website.

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