30 free hours of childcare – Gingerbread response

Posted 26 August 2015

Government announces greater access to free childcare, with important implications for single parents.

Responding to the government’s announcement that 30 free hours of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds will begin next September, Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said:

“More free childcare is welcome. Our research has found almost half of single parents borrow to pay for expensive childcare costs, while many find working doesn’t make financial sense when faced with such high childcare bills in return.

“However, it’s important to remember this will only be available 38 weeks of the year during term time, and there have been concerns raised about the quality of care available. Providers have also shared worries about how the system will work in practice – we know that in many local authorities, there is insufficient childcare available to cover current demand – let alone when parents try to access more hours.

“We are also very concerned the government has brought forward the rollout to next year to support its plans to make single parents look for work as soon as their child turns three – two years younger than current laws require.

“While we’re pleased that the government has listened to our concerns about the childcare single parents would need, we are opposed to plans to make single parents looking after very young children go out to work.

“Most single parents want to work and a record number already do. The proposed new requirements undermine single parents’ role as carers and their ability to undertake training to secure a decent job, and don’t address other major barriers to work, such as a shortage of family-friendly jobs.”

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