Good news for parents – but still a way to go

There was some good news for parents in the Chancellor’s autumn statement, with a number of measures being introduced to help the most disadvantaged children. Chancellor George Osborne announced that the provision of early year’s childcare is to be extended to an extra 130,000 disadvantaged two year olds. This is part of the Government’s targets to tackle the long term causes of child poverty, by enhancing early development for disadvantaged children.

The Government plans to invest a further £380 million a year by 2014-15 to extend its offer of 15 hours of free education and care a week for disadvantaged two year olds - effectively doubling the number of children who will receive free nursery care.

This means that 40% of two year olds - 260,000 children - from the most disadvantaged families will now get support in their early years.

While we welcome these changes and the positive effect they will have for a number of families, we feel there is still more which can be done to support working parents.

For families facing increasing bills, stagnant salaries and rising childcare costs, childcare vouchers continue to play a vital role and we believe the scheme could be adapted to provider even greater support.

Over the coming months we will be looking at other opportunities for the scheme – including ways for vouchers to be made available for the self-employed.

One thing is clear, with childcare costs estimated to increase dramatically over the next few years the savings available through the childcare voucher scheme will prove more important than ever.