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Free childcare provision delights MP

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Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has applauded the government’s decision to invest in free childcare provision for all children under five.

Ms Baillie has been at the forefront of a campaign to persuade the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to help parents and the childcare sector.

The Chancellor responded in his budget by announcing a plan to offer 30 hours a week of free childcare to all children aged one and two, on top of the existing free hours for those aged three and four.

The initiative will be phased in over the next few years to allow the sector to increase capacity. The hourly funding rate for nurseries will rise too.

More 700,000 parents on Universal Credit will also now not have to pay for childcare costs upfront in a move She had worked with The Sun newspaper to achieve.

She said only 13% of parents on UC have accessed government support because they could not afford the upfront costs.

Childminders – whose numbers have plummeted – will also receive incentives to enter the sector.

The MP has worked with the think tank Onward, met with the Treasury and the Chancellor to make the case for more support. She said it could allow up to one million more women to go back to work.

“I am completely chuffed the Chancellor has listened to myself and many others on this really important issue for parents, and the childcare sector,” she said.

“I was with the Chancellor last night but nobody knew what the speech would be apart from his close team. The fact that he has made early years and parents integral to growing the economy is a big win. 

“There is more to do on hourly rates for the sector and because we need to make access to childcare support far less complex in the long run. However, investment was needed right now for parents, who are really struggling to pay for childcare.

“I am particularly pleased with the Universal Credit announcements. Making parents pay upfront was an unfairness, the Chancellor recognised and acted on.

“As Jeremy Hunt explained, parents being able to work if they want or need to is really important, as is the early years sector generally. Thank you to everybody in Stroud that took the time to contact me with views and experiences.”

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