Working parents in Wirral are being urged to register for 15 hours free childcare per week from April 2024.
This week, it was announced that applications for the first wave of the rollout of the largest ever expansion of free childcare for working parents will open on 2 January.
From January, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to register to access 15 hours free childcare per week from April 2024.
Councillor Vida Wilson (Conservative, Moreton West & Saughall Massie) is a member of the Council’s Children, Young People and Education Committee:
“There will be many families across Moreton, Saughall Massie and Wirral who could benefit from this new offer. Having access to local, good quality childcare is a priority and is a vital part of making sure parents can return to work.”
As part of the largest investment in childcare in England’s history, further increases to government funding rates for childcare are also being confirmed this week. In 2024-25, the Department for Education is investing more than £400 million to increase to local authority hourly rates, to ensure more places are available.
National average hourly rates paid by the government will be £11.22 for under 2s; £8.28 for 2-year-olds, and £5.88 for 3 and 4-year-olds from April. These rates reflect the increase in the National Living Wage from April 2024, which makes up a significant proportion of providers’ costs.
From today (Thursday 30th November), funding will also be available for new childminders who join the profession or who completed their registration on or after 15th March 2023, or those re-registering at least 12 months after the cancellation of a previous registration.
There will be £600 available for those who choose to register with Ofsted and £1,200 for those who choose to register with a childminder agency.
This is designed to support thousands of new childminders to enter the sector and create new, quality, childcare settings across the country to further increase choice and flexibility for families.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan added:
“Our fantastic childcare offer is going to start supporting eligible families in less than 6 months’ time, and I want to make sure that parents and providers are prepared.
“From April next year, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of government-funded childcare a week, making sure parents no longer have to choose between a career and a family, and doubling down on this government’s commitment to getting more people into work and growing the economy.
“I know the delivery of this transformation is no easy task, which is why I am pushing ahead with increased funding rates across the country and up to £1,200 for new childminders, knocking down barriers to recruiting and retaining the talented staff that provide such wonderful care for our children.”
Government is also offering ongoing support for the over 2 million parents on Universal Credit, many of whom could now also be eligible for up to £951 a month if they have one child and £1,630 if they have 2 or more children, to help cover the costs of their childcare bills – this marks a 47% boost in support.
Chief Executive of PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) Helen Donohoe said:
“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.
“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.”