In the Spring 2023 budget, the government announced that they would be making several key changes to childcare – predominantly, the finances around childcare. The cost-of-living crisis has only served to put pressure on families with more and more parents being prematurely forced back into the workplace without any way to fund a high level of care for their children while they are at work. The idea behind the latest childcare budget is that they would look for ways to ease the financial strain of childcare costs in order to help parents reintegrate into the workforce.
30 Free Hours of Childcare
As things stand, all UK children aged three and four are eligible for thirty hours of free childcare every week. Factoring in that the average full-time job demands roughly thirty-five hours a week, this covers a large portion of the time that a working adult would spend away from home. However, by excluding children younger than three within this legislation, a parent is still required to spend several years at home if unable to front the full cost of weekly childcare.
Hearing the opinions of working parents with younger children, the government are extending the thirty hours of free childcare to children between the ages of nine months, all the way up to pre-school.
Carer to Child Ratios
The UK government recently announced that in the 2023 budget, childcare ratios have seen a significant change. Starting from April 2023, adults will be able to look after up to five two-year-olds at any given time, as opposed to the previous four-child limit. While this may seem like a somewhat negligible change, it will have major impact on the quality of care that children are provided. Many children – especially those within key developmental years – have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and will need extra attention from care givers to ensure that they are able to mature at a healthy rate. Cutting costs is clearly the focus of this budgetary change and various groups have been outspoken about their distaste toward this change.
Funding for Nurseries
The money made available to nurseries is also planned to increase over the coming years with £204 million being available from this September (2023), and rising to £288 at some point in 2024. This extra money will go toward helping nurseries hire staff and keep childcare costs down with the lack of funding being cited as the reason for many nurseries having to raise their prices.
Financial Incentives for Childminders
Seeing a steep drop in the number of UK childminders (9,800 fewer in 2022 than in 2019), the government have quickly realised the complications that understaffing within the childcare sector will cause. Many childminders have spoken about feeling underappreciated and stated that their wages weren’t enough to justify the emotional stress of the role; those with more experience are making the switch to the private childminding where they can dictate their own charges and working hours.
In order to try and bring more workers to the sector, the government have offered financial incentives to childminders who sign up to their scheme or join via an agency. Currently £600 for the former and £1200 for the latter, they hope that this will prove enough motivation to drive a fresh wave of childminder talent.
Get in Touch With FMACS
At FMACS, we are experts in resolving couple disputes and helping families come to amicable resolutions across the fields of finance, childcare, and more. Get in touch with a member of our specialist team today on 0330 113 0005.