30 Hours Free Childcare
Department for Education |
The 2015 manifesto committed to giving 30 hours of free childcare a week to working parents of three and four year olds. The aim was to deliver the economic prize of greater parental employment, and reduce the cost of childcare.
Implementation was a huge challenge: we needed around 50,000 childcare providers to offer 30 hours, but surveys suggested that 40% might not do so because they considered our funding rate too low. Local authorities, who are our delivery partners, are responsible for managing their local childcare markets – we worked seamlessly with them to make sure we delivered 30 hours. Working with HMRC, we created a ground-breaking parent-facing digital application system which gives instantaneous eligibility decisions.
This is a rare example of two complex major government programmes - 30 hours and HMRC’s Tax-Free Childcare – managing critical operational dependencies and joined-up service delivery to provide positive user outcomes. Exceptionally strong programme management and joint working were key to our success.
Within just over two years, the offer launched nationally, on time and within budget. More than 340,000 children benefited from a place in the first year, taking pressure off family finances and supporting a quarter of mothers to increase their working hours.