Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has defended the speed of the rollout of his budget offer of free childcare for working parents, describing it as the “biggest transformation in childcare in my lifetime.”
The new childcare package will see working families having access to 30 hours of free childcare per week for children aged between nine months and four years old, where all adults in the household work at least 16 hours. The policy had previously only applied to the parents of three and four-year-olds.
However, challenged by Sky’s Jayne Secker on the speed of the action, which she said will not have kicked in by the time of the next election, Mr Hunt defended his ambitious plans.
Budget news – latest: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt speaks to Sky News
He told Sky News: “This is the biggest transformation in childcare in my lifetime.
“It’s a huge change and we are going to need thousands more nurseries, thousands more schools offering provision they don’t currently offer, thousands more children.
“We are going as fast as we can get the supply in the market to expand.
“But it is the right thing to do because we have one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world and we know it is something that is a huge worry, for women in particular, that they have this cliff-edge when maternity leave ends After nine months, no help until the child turns three and that can often be career ending.
“So I think it is the right thing to do for many women, to introduce these reforms and we are introducing them as quickly as we can because we want to remove those barriers to work.”