The Spring Government Budget Childcare Announcement: What You Need to Know

A mum reads to her son in a nursery setting

On Wednesday 15th March, the Chancellor announced his long-awaited Spring Budget. One of the most prominent measures announced, and the thing that had all of us here at Your Baby Club waiting at the edge of our seats, was the expansion of free childcare in England. Here, we run through everything you need to know about the new plans for childcare announced in the budget.

How Much Free Childcare Will Parents Get Under the New Plans?

Currently, all 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to free nursery education for 15 hours a week, 38 weeks a year. If both parents earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours of work at national living wage per week, this doubles to 30 hours per week of free childcare.

Under the new plans, if parents have a child under the age of 3 and are working, they will also be eligible for this 30 hours per week of free childcare once the child turns 9 months old.

Is my Family Eligible for 30 Hours of Free Childcare?

If you earn more than what is the equivalent of 16 hours per week at national living wage and your child is over the age of 9 months old, you’ll be eligible for the 30 hours of government-funded childcare per week. This is provided that you don’t meet the maximum earning eligibility of £100,000 per year.

It doesn’t go off the hours that you work, but the amount that you earn. If you work 11 hours per week, but make £12.50 an hour, you’ll reach the threshold.

For households with two working adults, both parents must meet the criteria above to be eligible for the free childcare. This is regardless of whether your partner is the child’s parent.

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When Will the Funding be Available?

The government are planning to stagger the introduction of these plans. From April 2024, parents with 2-year-olds, who are in work, will get 15 hours of free childcare per week. 

In September of 2024, the eligibility for these 15 hours will be extended to parents with children over the age of 9 months.

One year later, in September 2025, the amount of free childcare available to parents in these eligible groups will double to 30 hours per week. This is the final stage of the funded childcare.

 

How Will This Help Parents Struggling With Childcare Costs?

These new measures will be life-changing for parents, providing many with over two years more of funded childcare for their little ones. Still, with the staggered introduction of these new measures, we are left wondering where the help is for parents out there today who are struggling with the ever-rising cost of childcare. 

With the promised 30 hours of free childcare being a whole year and a half away for many, these steps do little to all of the parents out there who are already struggling. Most of these parents won’t see any of the benefits of the new measures.

There is also no sign of if or when similar measures will be brought in for parents in Scotland and Wales, with these new provisions only applying to England.

 

What do Our Members Think of the New Free Childcare Plans?

As the plans were announced, we took to our Instagram to see what Your Baby Club members really think about the government’s plans. One unsurprising thing with the confusing way the plans have been announced is that around 1/4 of our members were confused about whether they’d benefit from the plans.

Most of you felt positive about the announcement, but only around 40% said they’d be more likely to have children because of the changes.

When asked your opinions on the plans, the general consensus was that the changes are coming too late, and that more immediate action needs to be taken to help today's parents struggling with childcare.

Some of our members also raised concerns about where the extra capacity, spaces, and staff in the nurseries will come from to accommodate what will likely be a boom in parents wanting to enrol their younger babies in nursery to make the most of the funded childcare.

For more information on the new childcare plans announced in the Spring Budget, head over to our Facebook or Instagram to have your say.

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