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Free childcare hours set to double

At the moment, all working parents receive a contribution to the cost of nursery or childminder places equivalent to 15 free hours of care a week. Additional hours are paid for by parents.

From September 2017, the entitlement will increase to 30 free hours of childcare for parents who work more than 16 hours a week and earn less the £100,000.

The news will be well received by those who need the extended hours. However, nurseries have warned that the subsidy they get from the government is not nearly enough to cover the cost of providing the funded hours.

In an interview with the Independent, National Day Nurseries Association chief executive, Purnima Tanuku, commented: “The nursery sector is fully behind the principle of more support for parents. But serious funding shortfalls stand in the way of nurseries getting onboard.”

According to NDNA research, almost 90% of nurseries are already operating at a significant loss because of the free hours they provide. Doubling the entitlement to 30 funded hours will add further pressure and leave nurseries with no way of recovering their losses.

Some nurseries may withdraw from the scheme altogether, so it would be worth checking the position with your chosen care provider, sooner rather than later.

If you have childcare issues, it’s worth bearing in mind that employment law presents a range of family friendly rights, such as flexible working. The vast majority of employers are aware of their legal obligations towards parents, or those in a caring role. However, if you have any difficulties, please contact us for advice.