Three-quarters of extra childcare funding to benefit richest 50% - thinktank

Posted On: 
31st August 2017

The Government’s flagship plan to double the amount of free childcare for parents will overwhelmingly benefit richer families, thinktank analysis has found. 

The Government's pledge to double the entitlement of free childcare to 30 hours per week comes into effect tomorrow
PA Images

The Social Market Foundation said 75% of the money for extending the free entitlement for parents of three and four-year-olds would benefit the top half of households by income.

Amid concerns about capacity and providers pushing up costs for other services as a result of the new policy, which comes into force tomorrow, the SMF said there was a risk that it “could damage early education and care as it stands, pushing up the price for parents, and reducing quality”.

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The Government is planning to spend an extra £9bn on childcare and early years education over the next five years, including the 30-hours pledge.

The SMF, which was working with Labour MP and former shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, found that just £250m of that £9bn was earmarked for children from disadvantaged families.

Ms Powell said ministers were “skewing” resources towards the better off.

“With a singular focus on early years policies which subsidise the already well-off, the government is leaving disadvantaged children lagging further and further behind,” she said.

“Far from addressing this [lack of social mobility], over the next parliament this is set to get significantly worse with just 2.7% of new money for early education and care dedicated to the most vulnerable children, and only a quarter benefiting the bottom half by income of families.

“This huge skewing of resources seriously risks a widening developmental gap between disadvantaged children and their better off peers at the age of five, creating a lost generation who will struggle to ever catch up.”

Education minister Robert Goodwill said: "We are determined to support as many families as possible with access to high-quality, affordable childcare, which is why we are investing a record £6bn every year by 2020 in childcare – more than ever before – and doubling the free childcare available to working parents to 30 hours a week, saving them up to £5,000 a year per child."