From today’s Times, p.22:
A £1 billion government scheme to double the hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds will lead to only ‘slightly’ more mothers working, according to a leading think tank.
Next year parents will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare in term time ‘so that parents [translation: mothers] who want to return to work or work more hours can do so’, according to Justine Greening, the education secretary.
However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Essex and Warwick universities found that the change would lead to only a small number of mothers, about 12,000, and no fathers moving into paid work. Their analysis suggested the key impact would be financial, saving parents about £410 a year in childcare fees.
The researchers suggest that the increased hours of free care will simply replace paid-for childcare or informal care, often by grandparents.
Ministers yesterday announced an extra £30 million for nurseries to fund the free hours.
The financials of this puzzle me. 12,000 mothers saving about £410 p.a. amounts to a little under £5 million p.a. Maybe the £30 million is to help nurseries increase their capacity in a range of ways, or perhaps the opening of some new ones. But how does this require ‘a £1 billion governement scheme’?
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