Spring Budget 2023 childcare: What did Jeremy Hunt say about childcare?

15 March 2023, 13:46 | Updated: 15 March 2023, 15:18

Jeremy Hunt set to make changes to childcare in a bid to get people back to work
Jeremy Hunt set to extend childcare funding in a bid to get people back to work. Picture: Alamy

By Zoe Adams

What is the new childcare scheme? And is there 30 free childcare hours for one and two year olds? Here's what the Chancellor of Exchequer said in the new budget.

Jeremy Hunt and the government have been receiving growing pressure to change the costly rates of childcare in the UK as the cost of living crisis means more parents need to go back to work sooner.

In the Spring Budget 2023, the Chancellor of Exchequer confirmed big reformative changes to free childcare on offer including changes to families on Universal Credit as well as changing the eligibility for the 30-free-hour scheme.

Free childcare funding, that currently only exists for three and four year olds, will now be extended to children from nine months which will be a big help for struggling families.

Read more: Energy bills support extended for an extra three months as Hunt prepares to unveil back-to-work Budget

Read more: Childcare reform: When can you claim new 30 hours free childcare for one and two-year-olds?

So what did Jeremy Hunt say about childcare in the new budget? Here's the latest news and updates:

Children at nursery
Parents will be receiving extra childcare support via universal credits and free hours. Picture: Alamy

Spring Budget 2023: What will it say about childcare?

The chancellor has promised to help reduce the cost of childcare as one of the main themes in today's budget. So what did he say?

Families on Universal Credit

It's already been confirmed the government will be making changes to families who claim universal credit when it comes to their childcare costs.

The biggest change will be that the government will now pay the child care support sum upfront instead of in arrears meaning families will no longer have to pay out themselves.

He will also raise the sum parents on universal credit can claim for childcare.

Jeremy Hunt announces radical changes to free childcare

The Chancellor of the Exchequor case
The Spring Budget addressed taxes, childcare and energy prices. Picture: Alamy

30 free hours of childcare

Hunt has confirmed all children from nine months up to school age will now be eligible for 30 free hours of childcare as part of their new scheme.

As it stands, all children aged three and four in the UK can claim up to 30 free hours of childcare a week but this will allow parents to return to work as soon as maternity of paternity leave ends.

The roll out will be introduced in stages, starting from April 2024, and can be claimed by any parent working more than 16 hours a week who earn under £100,000 a year.

Nursery funding

Hunt also says he will increase the funding to nurseries to £204m from this September and rising again to £288m next year.

The Chancellor said: "I've also heard many concerns about cost pressures facing the sector," he says.

"We know this is making it hard to hire staff and raising prices for parents with around two thirds of childcare providers increasing fees."

Carer to child ratio

In another move that will impact the childcare system, there are changes to how many children one carer can look after.

Currently the rules state one adult can look after four children (age dependent) but this has changed to five.

Mr Hunt added: "We will change minimum staff-to-child ratios from 1:4 to 1:5 for two-year-olds in England as happens in Scotland, although the new ratios will remain optional with no obligation on either childminders or parents to adopt them."

Childminders

The government are also looking to increase the amount of childminders in the UK by offering a money incentive.

Hunt says the government will begin piloting incentive payments of £600 for childminders who sign up and £1200 for those joining through an agency.

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