UK PM Rishi Sunak rolls out ‘biggest ever’ free childcare plan

UK PM Rishi Sunak rolls out ‘biggest ever’ free childcare plan
Courtesy: WPA Pool / Pool / Getty Images News Via Getty Images

Thousands of parents of two-year-olds across England will get help with their childcare costs as the first phase of what the UK government has dubbed as the “biggest ever expansion in childcare” was rolled out this week.

In the first stage, working parents of two-year-olds will be now able to access 15 hours a week of government-funded childcare starting April 1. It is part of the Sunak-led government’s plan to free up thousands of couples from having to choose between having a family and a career.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Last year we promised the biggest ever expansion in childcare provision this country has ever seen, and today we are delivering on our plan with 15 hours of free childcare for parents with two-year-olds.

“We want to give working families the peace of mind that they will be supported and our full expansion will save parents £6,900 a year – helping to build a brighter future for families and help to grow our economy.”

During a tour in the north of the country, the Prime Minister was also asked about a general election and he reiterated that his “working assumption” is that there will be a general election in the UK in the second half of the year.

“I want to give people peace of mind that there’s a brighter future for them and their families, they can have a renewed sense of pride in our country. That’s the direction of travel and so we’re now heading in the right way,” he said during an interview with BBC Radio Tees.

The full childcare rollout is set to be completed by September 2025, with working parents able to access 30 hours from the end of maternity leave to when their child starts school.

UK Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “This is a landmark moment, and I am extremely proud to see we’re on track for more than 150,000 children to take up government-funded places under our new offer. This will be a lifeline for working parents, building up to this government’s plan for the most comprehensive childcare support in this country’s history by 2025.

“Support with childcare costs has an enormous ripple effect, freeing up parents to increase their hours at work and put more money in their pockets, or giving them the security to try out a new career or passion. It also contributes to economic growth and opens up new career opportunities in a hugely rewarding sector.”

Businesses across the country welcomed the expansion, which they expect will support them to grow.

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “When parents struggle to find a childcare solution, employers lose talented people from the workplace. That’s damaging for people, business and the economy.


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“The further rollout of free childcare in England is good news. It will benefit parents and employers, as well as providing more great jobs and career opportunities in the childcare sector.”

Justine Roberts, Founder and CEO of Mumsnet, added: “By closing the gap in support between the end of maternity leave and a child’s third birthday, the government will enable many women who would otherwise have been forced out of the workforce to choose to stay in work, benefitting not just them and their families but also the wider economy.”

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