Councils worry about expanded childcare places

family law

More than half of local authorities are concerned they may not be able to cope with the demand for expanded childcare services.

Starting in September three and four year-old children will be entitled to as many as 30 hours of childcare per week free of charge, double the current level of 15 hours.

However, councils across the country are worried that they do not have sufficient spaces to provide care for all eligible children. The Family and Childcare Trust discovered this when they surveyed the 152 local authorities in England. Of the 112 that responded, 54 per cent said they did not know if they would be able to meet demand once the 30 hour policy takes effect.

Only 33 per cent of local authorities were sure that they would have enough places while 13 per cent said they would not.

The charity also asked each local authority if they believed the quality of care on offer would be affected by the coming expansion. The majority – 66 per cent – did not think there would be any difference and only two per cent said there would be an impact on the level of quality.

In a report on the 30 hour plan published by the Family and Childcare Trust this week, the charity warned that the expanded childcare policy was “at risk of not living up to parents’ expectations”.

Deputy Chief Executive Ellen Broomé claimed that “while working parents are pleased to receive more hours of free childcare, they are not willing to cut corners on childcare quality”.

As this new policy is rolled out, the government needs to take steps to ensure that “all families are able to access the high quality, affordable childcare that they need” she insisted.

Earlier this week, free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) claimed that even with these government subsidies UK families spend as much as a third of their income on childcare services. The IEA also called for the government to scrap their current policy and replace it with one which better targets disadvantaged families.

Read the Family and Childcare Trust report here.

Photo by Tais Pires via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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