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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 07-Sep-17 16:35:19

Guest post: "This new childcare policy should save around £5,000 per year for each child"

As the new school year begins, Education Secretary Justine Greening discusses the launch of the Government's new childcare

Justine Greening

Education Secretary

Posted on: Thu 07-Sep-17 16:35:19

(80 comments )

Lead photo

Childcare costs can stop some parents from returning to careers that matter to them.

This week sees the start of the new school year.

As much as the school holidays can be fun for families spending time together, the new school term can come as a relief for many parents, after a summer of juggling work with their childcare responsibilities.

Childcare is a big expense that too many families struggle with – and not just during the summer holidays. So much so that childcare costs can stop some parents from returning to careers that matter to them, or make them think twice about working as many hours as they would like.

This government is doing something about that, with our 30 hours free childcare offer. It’s about supporting working families by making childcare affordable.

Working parents of three and four year olds who earn less than £100,000 a year are eligible, and over 200,000 families have already received their codes to take up the offer this term.

This new childcare policy should save around £5,000 per year for each child - and that’s on top of the support already available to many families through Tax-Free Childcare, which is available to around two million families in the UK. Parents can open an online childcare account and pay into this directly, meaning for every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2 – up to £2,000 per year for each child under 12 years old.

All this is backed up by our record investment of £6 billion per year in childcare.


All of this is a huge boost to families’ finances and takes away some of the barriers that might have been preventing parents from working. That’s certainly been the case for many of the 15,000 families that benefitted from the offer when we tested it out early in a number of areas across the country.

An independent survey of parents in eight of the councils that started the offer last September found four in five families said their finances improved.

Kurstie, a working parent in Staffordshire was one of the parents who benefitted from the offer early. She told us that having access to 30 hours of free childcare was the “greatest gift a working parent can be given”.

All this is backed up by our record investment of £6 billion per year in childcare, which includes an extra £1 billion per year by 2020 to deliver the free offers. This has meant more money for local authorities to pass on nurseries, childminders and other providers that will be delivering this offer.

For me as Education Secretary, this isn’t just about helping families with the big costs of childcare. We now know that high-quality childcare helps our children to develop, play and learn, helping them to go further at school. The good news is that nine in ten early years providers are now rated as good or outstanding, so parents can feel confident that their children will be getting a great education. And that ultimately will be the longer term impact of the government’s new policy on childcare – young people getting a better start in life.

Information for parents
More than 200,000 codes have already been issued to families and around 2,000 parents are successfully applying through the website every day. We know that there have been technical issues for some parents and we want to reassure them that no one should lose out because of this. Anyone who has experienced issues should call the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097. You can find out more at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

Children and Families Minister, Robert Goodwill, will be responding to questions and comments on this post shortly.

By Justine Greening

Twitter: @JustineGreening

AldiAisleOfCrap Thu 07-Sep-17 16:37:09

Why are families with one carer and one working parent, unable to receive their code online?

Hugepeppapigfan Thu 07-Sep-17 18:31:53

Hi Justine. I'm a teacher in a school nursery and I am also involved with running a private daycare setting. We are offering the 30 hours in both but the process is extremely complicated for parents and a nightmare for us to administer. I really feel there would be better ways to do this (and do not believe for a second that enough providers were consulted about this!). Qualified teacher time is being used on administering your new scheme and really that isn't the best for the children now, is it?

My settings are lucky and do not have big overheads such as large rental payments so we will be able to genuinely offer 30 free hours - charging only for the very small cost of lunch (other meals and snacks are free/included). Other settings are introducing charges for food, activities, consumables etc, and large costs for additional hours or for children younger than 3. This really isn't as good a deal for some parents, I'm sure you will agree, but provides need to make enough money to survive and your funding doesn't cover all for all settings.

I am a mother of young children and I, personally, would have preferred help with childcare costs from when I went back to work rather than so much more help just for age 3-4 (overall the same help but spread out!).

Hugepeppapigfan Thu 07-Sep-17 18:35:59

If you really want to stop parents being prevented from returning to careers that matter to them, as you say, then help with childcare costs needs to begin at a younger age. Following maternity leave is best really. The new tax free scheme and/or vouchers provide some help but childcare for babies and toddlers is still expensive!

Snap8TheCat Thu 07-Sep-17 18:36:03

I'm a registered childminder making about £13,000 a year for working full time.

Do you think it's fair that I should bridge the gap between what the government pays me and the market rate for a space so that families on almost £200,000 a year can save £5,000 on childcare costs?

Glumglowworm Thu 07-Sep-17 18:37:02

What would you say to the hundreds of childcare settings who have repeatedly said that the funding doesn't cover their costs?

sortingmyselfoutslowly Thu 07-Sep-17 18:38:37

We have applied, entered all details into HMRC website, received the eligibility code and confirmation that we are eligible, now the nursery is saying their portal cannot recognise our details and it is coming back as a false claim. If it's not sorted out by tomorrow we have to pay full fees for the term. Nursery manager is on annual leave tomorrow. Childcare services helpline say the nursery have to go through the local authority with any problems. Like everyone else we have to reapply in October even if our circumstances don't change. A lot of hassle, phone calls to the childcare service and nursery today when shock horror, I was supposed to be working! Sort yourselves out HMRC and don't introduce a system that doesn't work!

gettingbacktoresearch Thu 07-Sep-17 18:46:00

And this is okay if you have a child age 3 or 4 but what about when they go to school and need wrap around care? Breakfast club costs me £4 a day so I can get to work by 8:30 and afterschool club is £10 to cover me until 6.... that's £54 a week! Plus I then have holiday club cover for when I have no annual leave left to take at £36-40 a day....

Hugepeppapigfan Thu 07-Sep-17 18:57:47

Good point gettingbacktoresearch! Very expensive childcare aged 0-3, cheaper for 3-4, then expensive wrap around 4-11. A smaller amount of help for low and middle income families over a longer time period would be lovely!!!

Spikeyball Thu 07-Sep-17 18:58:44

Those with children who need extra support due to sn are not getting 30 free hours because extra support is not funded beyond the standard 15 hours. Parents are being told they have to pay for any extra 1:1 support themselves.

annoyedofnorwich Thu 07-Sep-17 19:07:32

Why not call it a subsidy towards childcare costs instead of "free"? This would stop it from being given a race to the bottom, quality wise. Higher quality provision and well trained staff cost more- but in my county poor settings and excellent settings get exactly the same funding. If funding is fixed and low (below the break even point for many good quality settings) then this encourages setting to use unqualified staff and buy fewer resources. Is less than £4 an hour really fair to settings? Especially given the increases to business rates, the upward pressure on wages caused by the living wage, and changes to pensions?

SingingSeuss Thu 07-Sep-17 19:10:39

Some nurseries seem to be able to offer the 30 hours as intended ( or at least how I read the policy as a parent) but others seem to be struggling to make the numbers work. I had to remove my child from a good nursery because of all the 'add ons' which they insisted were necessary to make up the shortfall between what government was paying them and what the actual cost of a place was. This was disruptive for my child but I just couldn't afford the place with all the add on terms. I was annoyed but did feel for the nursery who was genuinely just doing their best (and could have just not offered places as I believe uptake has been very poor).

twotimestwo Thu 07-Sep-17 19:30:48

I was invited to test the tax free childcare system in March. My husband and I duly signed out of our workplace voucher schemes and I applied. The application failed as the system couldn't identify my husband and a bug (which I'm told was known about) prevented me reapplying. We were told to apply in my husbands name instead. That failed because they said I had an account. We applied for a review which was turned down, again because apparently I have an account, which I don't. So far the new scheme has lost us £600 that we would have saved if we'd stayed in the workplace voucher schemes. So great idea, but a shame the website has bugs and the helpline can't deal with any of the issues.

user1471464432 Thu 07-Sep-17 19:59:30

There was a suggestion from someone on here about giving the parents the money for each child then they could use that towards their childcare costs. This would allow the nursery to continue to charge their hourly rate and allow far more flexibility for parents on when and where they want to use the money.

Twofishfingers Thu 07-Sep-17 20:51:52

I am a childminder, making on average £15,000 a year. If I was to offer a place to only ONE child on this scheme, my income falls by nearly £2000 a year. My First question to you is:
- do you REALLY expect childminders, already a low paid profession, to pick up the tab for this policy? (I expect an answer on this, a real answer)
- Why should I pick up the tab for families that can have a joint income of nearly £200,000 a year? Why should the money come out of MY pocket? Can you please answer those questions directly. I expect a written answer. Thank you in advance.

glenthebattleostrich Thu 07-Sep-17 21:00:35

I've suggested that in the past user.

I'm a childminder who is basically subsidising this scheme. I can't afford to take the full hit (50p per hour less than my hourly rate and my LA pay more than neighbouring counties) so have to increase fees for other parents or cut the quality of service I offer.

Did you actually listen to any providers when we told you we couldn't afford this Ms Greening?

And don't get me started on the bloody tax free childcare website ... ...

OhTheRoses Thu 07-Sep-17 21:28:05

My children are 22 and 19 now Justine. We used to live in yr constituency.

When ds was three he got a fulltime nursery place. Thecstandardscwere so poor at the nursery attached to a state school we removed him after a term. How please does one complain about a similar service quite legitimately that the government is providing "free".

Also in yr constituency we had a gifted child at a primary school whose needs were not met. The head said "you're lucky he's at that end not the other. Fortunately we could shift to the independent sector.

Our dd didn't seem as bright. She lasted to 11 at a lovelycWandsworth cofe school then transferred to supposedly one of the best cofe schools in a neighbouring borough. It was a disaster due to s disastrous head whom it took 7 years to remove. We removed her to the independent sector.

When we applied for secondary schools not one state school in your constituency except Graveny which would have been too difficult a journey offered a choice of MFL, a classical language and three separate sciences. There was no Wandsworth school we felt was fit to apply for.

Can you please explain why education provision post 11 is so poor for your constituents when you are supposed to be committed to educational standards. It was an absolute disgrace.

Look forward to hearing from you about the poor post 11 state provision on your constituency. It really isn't good enough.

Goldenbug Thu 07-Sep-17 23:22:06

I don't know if you've heard Justine, but a lot of nurseries just can't make it work and are closing. How does it help if you can't find a nursery with spaces?

There are some nurseries who can make it work. Because of the cap on fees, the ones who have the fewest/cheapest staff and who spend the least on equipment and food will do OK.

In short, there will be fewer places, and those places will be in low quality nurseries.

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Sep-17 23:37:51

My DS's pre-school closed due to not being able to afford to offer the 15 free hours on the rates given. The pre-school we were going to move him to also closed for the same reason. I then had to use an expensive nursery which offered the 15 free hours but due to logistics as it was much further away meant I had to pay for extremely expensive hours either side of the sessions and I ended up out of pocket.

How will extending this to 30 free hours make things easier for parents if it means lots of settings have to close?

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Fri 08-Sep-17 04:22:42

For over 10 year I have been angry over the misleading statement that these are FREE places. They are not. At best they are a subsidy towards childcare costs. Yet the admin and ridiculous rules in place are beyond a joke. The great thing about child benefit until the recent changes was that it was fixed, easy to understand and given to all. So admin costs of distribution are kept to a minimum. These childcare subsidies need to be the same - easy to apply and administer. You wouldnt then need 100s of people on a helpdesk who dont seem to help anyone anyway.

Remini1102 Fri 08-Sep-17 07:45:54

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

PidgeonSpray Fri 08-Sep-17 08:24:13

It's important to stop over breeding. The benefit should be limited to 2 kids (1 ideally but I know people like to have one of each)

Ceefax101 Fri 08-Sep-17 08:50:00

I'm a registered CM and our LA are paying nearly £2 less per hour than my rate. For the first time I'm seriously considering closing my business as I can't see any future in this. Great for the parents but devastating for cms and small nursery owners.

NeedsAsockamnesty Fri 08-Sep-17 09:10:18

Two outstanding registered nurseries in my area have closed because of this in the last week.

My childcare costs have rocketed by surprise surprise 5k for EACH child which now means that the childcare provider who has decided to increase the costs to parents not getting these hours will just lose my family as clients as soon as I've sorted out something else which means her income will drop because she's unlikely to find someone else daft enough to use her if they don't qualify for the hours

SamShamAndThePharaohs Fri 08-Sep-17 09:14:53

Justine- does the government value stay at home parents? The government's idea of a family friendly is to incentivise parents going to work and using childcare for 30 hours a week, and for some parents this will be appreciated. However, I imagine a significant number of people would consider the following family friendly; I know I would:

1) a carers wage available for parents of under fives so that families can afford to have one parent at home if they choose, and so that those individuals who stay at home are less economically vulnerable.

2) policies and schemes to encourage employers to hire parents returning to the workforce after a caring break, and to give parents the necessary skills and confidence to return.

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