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Government extends free childcare scheme


Four out of ten two-year-olds in England will benefit from free childcare from next September under a new scheme offered by the Government.

Parents who earn under £16,190 a year will be entitled to 15 hours’ worth of childcare a week, allowing the families of around 260,000 toddlers financial relief from paying to have their children looked after.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, will announce the changes which are a development of initiatives set out by the previous government which saw twelve hours of free childcare offered to three and four-year-olds in England. This has since been extended to 25 hours by the current government.

The deputy Prime Minister said: “From today, if you’re a parent on a low income with a two-year-old in the family, you’ll qualify for up to 15 hours a week of free early education for your child. This free support is focused on helping the families that need it the most. That’s around 130,000 two-year-olds – one in every five two-year-olds.

“From this time next year we will extend this helping hand even further, doubling the amount of youngsters getting a brighter start in life”

This is great news for a number of lower-income families, who currently have to fund this childcare themselves, however there has been a warning that the closure of nurseries could hamper the introduction of the initiative.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “We are concerned that loss of nursery provision in children’s centres is impacting on local authorities’ ability to find sufficient places to offer.

“Cost savings have driven nursery closures and this approach reduces capacity in the system which will damage government hopes of meeting its targets for provision of childcare for two-year-olds”.

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