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‘Be innovative’, government tells providers ahead of 30 hours scheme

Childcare providers should aim to be the first to deliver 30 hours of free childcare from September 2016, the government has urged.

In a speech this morning (26 August), education secretary Nicky Morgan asked providers to come forward with ‘innovative and flexible’ ideas as to how they would deliver the scheme from next year - a year earlier than originally proposed.

She said: “For too long, rising childcare costs have been a barrier to working parents and particularly mothers.

“This One Nation government is on the side of hardworking people - that is why this time next year we’ll see the first families benefit from the government’s offer of 30 hours of free childcare for working parents.

“Today, we’re calling on providers to tell us how they can offer innovative, high-quality childcare that helps parents return to work while keeping more of their hard-earned money in their back pocket.”

The move follows a funding review with the sector, which closed on 10 August.

The government is also consulting with parents and employers about what the plans to double the offer of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds mean to them.

But Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch has expressed concern at the government’s call for ‘innovative and flexible’ ideas.

He said: “For far too long the government has relied on the continued goodwill of the sector and, unless sufficient funding is provided, the sector will be unable to deliver the extended hours.

“As such, before attempting to publicly appease parents and raise unrealistic expectations, government should first work with the sector to agree the best way to deliver the scheme.”