Cuts Watch #156: Affordable childcare pilots
Nursery World reports that the Government’s childcare affordability pilots are being cut, and will be ending in September. These pilots included a ‘100% offer‘ of subsidised childcare to 500 unemployed parents from low income households in five London boroughs, and a subsidised childcare offer to parents of disabled children or children with special educational needs.
Their early end will mean that parents have to pay back childcare advances far earlier than they have budgeted for: Mrs Burke, one of the pilot participants and a single parent caring for her eight year old son who has Aspergers, told Nursery World that “parents will be expected to pay back £500. I for one cannot afford it.”
Participating families were given a £500 advance at the start of the pilot to help them find appropriate childcare, and were assured that their childcare costs would be covered for the entire pilot period. While they were told that the £500 would have to be re-paid at the end of the pilot period, this was not expected to be for another nine months. However, families have now been asked to repay this money to HMRC before the pilot ends in September, and have only just found out that their subsidised childcare will end in around a month.
The early termination of the pilots will also undermine attempts to evaluate them, and suggests that Government committment to providing affordable childcare for low income working families is limited.