Changes to childcare funding hours: everything you need to know

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In the Spring Budget of 2023, the Government announced that up to 30 hours per week of free childcare was due to be expanded for parents of one- and two-year-olds, matching the support currently available to three- and four-year-olds.

England has some of the highest quality childcare provision in the world, with 96% of early years settings rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding*. The Government is therefore investing around £8 billion over the next few years, up from the planned £4 billion previously.

By September 2025, working parents (those who work more than 16 hours a week and individually earn more than £8,670 but less than £100,000 per year or a couple where both earn at least £8,670 but neither earn more than £100,000) will be able to claim 30 hours of free childcare a week, over 38 weeks of the year, all the way through from nine months up to their child starting school.

When does the 30 hours free childcare start?

Eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds already get 30 hours a week of free childcare. The increased offer will be rolled out in stages to allow Early Years providers time to be able to implement the changes, making sure the places that are needed are available across the country when the offers are introduced.

  • From April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare.
  • From September 2024, 15 hours of free childcare will be extended down to the age of nine months for working parents.
  • From September 2025, working parents of children aged nine months and upwards will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week right up to their child starting school.

How is the government supporting nurseries?

Nurseries are set to receive a £200+ million cash boost as part of the Government’s promise to deliver the ‘largest ever’ investment in childcare**. This will be rolled out from January 2024 and is intended that childcare providers can use this to ease cost pressures such as staffing costs, training, and bills.

Funding rates per child paid from September will increase from an average of £5.29 to £5.62 for three- and four-year-olds, and from an average of £6.00 to £7.95 for two-year-olds.

What does this mean?

Childcare is one of the biggest costs facing working families today, so whilst this is welcome news for parents, it will certainly pose some risks for Early Years providers.

With the impending increase in demand in their services, nurseries are likely going to face recruitment issues. It is well known that recruitment and staffing have been challenging issues in the sector recently, but we think apprenticeships are going to play a huge part in this.

Apprenticeships can be incredibly beneficial for both employers and learners, and you can read in some of our other blogs the massive benefits they can offer, from attracting new staff, upskilling current staff, or improving the profile of the sector for future learners.

It gives the learner the opportunity to ‘earn whilst you learn’, obtain hands-on experience, reduce education costs, all whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification. In the recent Autumn budget, signing up to an apprenticeship has become even more appealing with the introduction in April 2024 of a 21% wage increase, now rising to £6.40 per hour.

For an employer, apprenticeships give a cost-effective solution to recruit and train staff.

The cost of training an apprentice is often lower than hiring an experienced worker, and as the apprentice progresses, they become a skilled and productive employee for the company.

They also offer:

  • Tailored skillset
    Apprenticeships are designed to provide a tailored skillset that aligns closely with the needs and demands of specific industries or occupations.
  • Return on investment
    Skilled apprentices can contribute to increased productivity and efficiency. As they gain proficiency, they can take on more responsibilities and contribute to the organisations success.
  • Enhanced skills & knowledge
    Apprenticeships offer a well-rounded approach to skills and knowledge enhancement, equipping learners with the practical experience and expertise needed to progress.

How can we help?

We work in partnership with all our employers to understand what is important to your business and how apprenticeships can help to achieve your business goals. Our tailored approach recognises each individual employer's needs and enables us to deliver a unique apprenticeship solution for you.

With big changes happening in 2024, now’s the time to start thinking about your recruitment and training needs so that you’re fully ready to overcome any challenges you may be facing.

To find out more, contact us.


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