Alliance responds to latest DfE 30 hours childcare statistics

Commenting on the latest DfE statistics, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“We know that finding affordable, accessible childcare is a real challenge for many families across the country and to that end, it's very positive to see that the number of parents able to validate their 30-hour eligibility codes remains high.

“That said, these statistics are likely to be of little comfort to the 25,000 families who have applied for 30-hour codes but been unable to validate them. What's more, it’s clear that the availability of funded places remains a postcode lottery – in some areas of London, more than a quarter of families who have requested a 30-hours code have not been able to access a place. With more and more providers struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising business costs and frozen funding levels, it’s likely that such a squeeze on places will continue to grow in the months ahead.

"And of course, what these figures don’t show is whether or not parents accessing the 30 hours offer are receiving places that are genuinely ‘free’. We know that many pre-schools, childminders and nurseries are having to find ways to plug the ever-increasing funding gap and, in many cases, this means passing on this shortfall to parents in the form of additional fees and charges, often leaving those families most in need of support struggling to access places.

“If the government really wants to honour the promise of ‘free childcare’ it made to parents, and ensure that places are available to all, it simply must invest more into the sector – there is no alternative option.”




  • The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England.
  • A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country. The Alliance represents 14,000 member settings and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.
  • The Alliance website is 
  • The Alliance’s Fair Future Funding campaign currently has over 7,000 practitioner and parent supporters. 
  • On 18 February 2019, the Pre-school Learning Alliance will be rebranding to the Early Years Alliance.


More 2019 press releases