Campaign to push vouchers

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The Independent Online
Ministers have started a new advertising campaign to promote nursery vouchers after three out of ten eligible parents failed to apply.

Vouchers for a pilot scheme in four local authorities will be sent out from next week.

The Department for Education and Employment said yesterday that it hoped more parents would apply as a result of the new campaign.

A spokeswoman said the department was pleased with the response so far: "We want to pick up anyone who has not cottoned on to what is going on. In Norfolk, some parents of four-year-olds in school reception classes did not realise they had to apply and threw their vouchers away."

A Labour spokesman said the need to re-advertise showed the campaign had created unnecessary confusion. "Millions of pounds being spent on the vouchers could have been spent on nursery provision."

From April, parents of four-year-olds in four local authorities, Norfolk, and the London boroughs of Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea will be entitled to pounds 1,100 vouchers to spend on nursery education. The scheme will be extended across the whole country next year.

A spokesman for Wandsworth said: "We would have hoped by now that it was 10 out of 10 parents applying for vouchers. It is very important that this further advertising is effective."