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Introduce 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds (means-tested)

Last updated: 10:53am 10 January 2019

That is why a Conservative government will introduce, this year, thirty hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds for working parents who find it difficult to manage the costs of childcare.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.72

Our verdict

From September 2017, around 390,000 families were eligible for 30 hours of free childcare a week, with evidence of improved work-life balance, family finances and the work hours parents are able to put in. The program is means-tested: certain income and employment status requirements must be met to be eligible. Eligible families can save approximately £5,000 per year as a result of the program.

The government set aside £2.7 billion in 2017-18 for the programme, which is expected to remain constant until 2019-20, after which there is a promised increase of £1 billion per year.

Despite this welcome progress, there have been complaints that the government is underfunding the scheme. For instance, following the scheme’s implementation, 38% of nursery care providers are not confident their business will be sustainable in 12 months’ time. A survey conducted before the policy rolled out found that only 40% were planning to offer 30-hour free places.

This policy has been delivered by the government, although the extent of take-up – and thus, provision – of 30-hour free nursery care spots is a factor in considering whether the outcome is meaningful. We are marking this as ‘done’ but we will continue to monitor the implementation of the scheme and the impact on childcare providers.  Sign up for updates!

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