David Cameron pledges to phase in childcare reforms ahead of schedule

Tories have promised to double free childcare for 600,000 working parents

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A promise to double free childcare for 600,000 working parents with three and four year olds is to be phased in early, David Cameron will announce.

The entitlement is to be increased from the 15 hours a week currently on offer during term time to 30 hours, in a move the Government says will be worth about £5,000 to families.

During the election campaign the Conservatives pledged to introduce the measure in 2017, but ministers will set out an accelerated timetable when the Childcare Bill is published.

The scheme, which only applies in England, will be rolled out in some parts of the country in September 2016 ahead of its full introduction the following year.


Ministers will also commit themselves to increasing the rate paid to nurseries and preschools to which look after small children. Its pledge follows accusations that the current 15 hours scheme is underfunded by the government.

The £350m cost of the new initiative will be met by cutting the tax relief on pension contributions on people earning more than £150,000.

Mr Cameron said: “This Government is on the side of working people - helping them get on and supporting them at every stage of life.

“That is exactly why we are pressing ahead with these reforms - so that not a moment is lost in getting on with the task - going further than ever before to help with childcare costs,  helping hardworking families and giving people the opportunity to get into work.”

The CBI’s deputy director-general, Katja Hall, said: “It’s good to see the Government shining the spotlight on childcare and lending a helping hand to working families. Many parents want to come back to work or put in more hours after having a child, but can’t because of soaring childcare costs.

“Increasing free childcare provision is an important step to enabling parents to pursue their careers, and to allowing businesses to retain skilled and talented employees.”