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More eligible two-year-olds are taking up free entitlement places

New government figures, published today, have suggested an increase in the number of eligible two-year-olds taking up free entitlement places.

The Department for Education publishes annual estimates of the number of children benefiting from government provision, and the latest figures (published June 2015) estimated that in January 2015 157,000 two-year-olds (58% of those eligible) benefited from government funded childcare. New figures have shown that over the autumn period of 2015, 182,000 two-year-olds benefited from the funding; 72% of the eligible population.

Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said that it is encouraging to see this number increasing.

“Given this trend, it is vital that the government looks to tackle the issue of capacity in the early years sector as a priority ahead of the 30-hour offer for eligible three- and four-year-olds,” he said. “As highlighted by yesterday’s National Audit Office report, providers facing a squeeze on places as a result of the extended offer may be forced to limit the number of funded two-year-old places they are able to provide.”

He added that supporting providers to respond to this increased demand will be crucial to ensuring the long-term success of both schemes.