Rishi Sunak vows to make his new childcare plan work as he is grilled by nursery parents over the number of places

1 week ago
Please Share to your Social Media
Please Follow Naijamerit on Social Media
PM met two-year-olds at Aldersyde Day Nursery in Hartlepool, Co Durham

By Claire Ellicott

Published: 00:39 BST, 3 April 2024 | Updated: 00:59 BST, 3 April 2024

Nursery parents grilled Rishi Sunak yesterday over whether there are enough places and workers for the demands of his new childcare scheme.

The Prime Minister insisted that capacity was growing and said he had increased the rates paid to nurseries.

He added the country was 'moving towards' a programme to fund care for children from the end of maternity leave to the beginning of school.

On a visit to the Aldersyde Day Nursery in Hartlepool, Co Durham, Mr Sunak met some of the first two-year-olds to receive 15 hours of free care a week.

Nursery parents grilled Rishi Sunak (pictured) yesterday over whether there are enough places and workers for the demands of his new childcare scheme

The Prime Minister insisted that capacity was growing and said he had increased the rates paid to nurseries

He added the country was 'moving towards' a programme to fund care for children from the end of maternity leave to the beginning of school

Labour education spokeswoman Bridget Phillipson (pictured) has refused to commit to plans beyond the 15 hours of taxpayer-funded care for two-year-olds introduced on Monday

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (pictured) has written to Ms Phillipson warning that some parents had told her they were wary of taking jobs or promotions because of the uncertainty over childcare in the future

Q&A 

Parents are now entitled to 15 hours a week of free childcare for two-year-olds. The scheme will expand so children aged nine months to four years will eventually be entitled to 30 free hours.

How does the scheme work?

Working parents must apply before the start of the term when a child will be eligible. Once approved, they receive a code to give to a childcare provider. The hours are designed to be used during school term time.

Are there concerns about the plans?

There are worries about the number of places available for children, though the Government has increased the hourly rate it pays to providers. The funding may also not cover the full cost of the childcare so some providers may charge 'top-up fees' for voluntary extras.

Who's eligible?

Most parents must work and earn more than £8,670 and less than £100,000 a year.

So what would Labour do?

Education spokesman Bridget Phillipson has refused to commit to the Tory plans to expand free childcare, claiming the system cannot deal with the demand. Labour later said it would not withdraw future childcare entitlements. It has commissioned a review of the Government scheme.

Asked by one parent if the system could cope, Mr Sunak said: 'We've seen an expansion over the last year of the number of people working in the sector and of the number of places. 

'That's why we wanted to have a gap between announcing the policy and it coming into force, because you needed that expansion to happen.'

He told another parent that it would 'take time to invest in the sector and expand the number of places, because it's such a big change'.

The PM said: 'We're moving towards a system where parents will have 30 hours of free childcare from the time maternity leave ends at nine months for their little ones, all the way to four, when they start school.

'We've fully funded the programme and the future looks bright.' His comments came as Labour faced questions about its childcare policy.

The party has said it will keep the 15 hours of taxpayer-funded care for two-year-olds introduced on Monday.

But education spokesman Bridget Phillipson has refused to commit to plans beyond that. The party has commissioned former Ofsted chief Sir David Bell to review the Government's childcare scheme and is awaiting his findings.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has written to Ms Phillipson warning that some parents had told her they were wary of taking jobs or promotions because of the uncertainty over childcare in the future.

At the weekend Ms Keegan said the Government was 'on track for more than 150,000 children to take up government-funded places'.

In her response to the minister's letter, Ms Phillipson wrote it was an 'outright lie' that Labour would remove future childcare entitlements.

She added: 'Parents have reported for weeks their difficulties in navigating the chaos of the Conservatives' botched childcare pledge, leaving many unable to access places.'

Read full article
Please Follow Naijamerit on Social Media
< Back | News content