Written by – Marie-Claire Swallow, Senior HR Consultant, Alcumus
Following promises made by David Cameron during the Conservative party election campaign and whatever your own political affiliation, there is some good news on the horizon due to legislation being introduced by the Government.
The Childcare Bill 2015-16 had its first two readings in the House of Lords in June 2015. The Bill will require the Secretary of State to make available free childcare for a period equivalent to 30 hours in each of 38 weeks per year, for qualifying children of working parents in England who are under compulsory school age. This doubles the amount of free childcare that is currently available.
The government has said that the new increased free childcare allowance will be available as a pilot scheme in some places from September 2016 which is a year earlier than originally planned.
A survey, commissioned by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), reveals that two-thirds of parents questioned (65.9%) say they would definitely take all of the free hours on offer, while a further 13.7% say they would probably take all of them. Also, 52% of parents are saying they would rather have fewer hours all year round rather than term-time only. The NDNA calculated that based on the survey findings, with more than 1.3 million three and four-year-olds in England, there are likely to be hundreds of thousands more parents in the labour market for more work.
This should prove positive for employers who may be struggling to recruit employees who are finding the barrier of childcare costs simply too high a threshold to overcome.
This Bill has to pass through further readings in the House of Lords and then the House of Commons before receiving Royal Assent to become an Act of Parliament so watch this space.