For millions of parents in Britain, childcare accounts for a significant proportion of family expenditure. Parents make decisions about whether, where and for how many hours they work based on the cost and availability of childcare in their local area. Access to high quality childcare is also vital for children’s educational outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged groups. 2017 will see the introduction of tax-free childcare for some families across the UK, and the roll-out of an increased entitlement to 30 hours per week of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds in England – with similar policies planned in future for Scotland and Wales. While these changes will be welcomed by a lot of parents, childcare costs continue to make it difficult for many families to work. There are also questions about the operation of the 30 hour entitlement, with many local authorities having significant concerns about availability and market stability.
-reprinted from Family and Childcare Trust