Our Cabinet members will receive a report which outlines the extension of early years entitlements for parents with young children, at their next meeting on Wednesday 24 January.
This follows the announcement in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement last year, which outlined several planned changes due to take place:
- Working parents with children aged two will be able to access 15 hours of free child-care from April this year (2024)
- Working parents with children aged nine months up to three years of age will be able to access 15 hours of free child-care from September this year.
- From September 2025, working parents of children aged under five will be able to access 30 hours of free child-care each week.
- At the same time, local authorities, schools’ and settings will receive additional funding to increase ‘wraparound’ care provision so that working parents of primary school age children can access childcare between 8am and 6pm.
- In addition, the costs of childcare for parents in receipt of Universal Credit with young children and who are moving into work or increasing their hours of employment will now be paid upfront rather than in arrears. The maximum amount which can be claimed will increase to £951 for one child and £1,630 for two children. This equates to an increase of 50 percent.
- A pilot programme of incentive payments amounting to £600 will be paid to anyone entering the child-care profession (or £1,200 for anyone joining via an agency)
Members will be asked to approve proposals which will ensure the management of the expansion and entitlements rollout runs smoothly.
- Forming a delivery group including council services and representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions. Early years provider stakeholder groups will also be established to ensure the views and interests of all stakeholders are valued and influence the delivery plans.
- Making good use of the initial delivery support grant of £55,238 for 2023/24 to support the expansion of funded childcare places.
Details concerning our allocation of funding, together with hourly rates per childcare place as well as grant contributions to start-up, expansion and running costs, are included in the report.
A separate report concerning our latest, annual review of the sufficiency of childcare places to meet increasing demand will be submitted for Cabinet’s approval later this year.
Cllr Trevor Cave, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said:
“In Barnsley, children and families benefit from access to a strong early years sector, with the quality of provision better than the national average. We will work in partnership with the sector, settings and schools to support them with expansion or the establishment of new provision.
"These changes will provide more families with young children greater help in accessing childcare and support them to start or stay in work. It will enable more children to obtain a good start in life and achieve a good level of development by the time they start full-time school.”
The full report can be read in the Cabinet agenda pack (item 13).