Local authorities made responsible for ensuring childcare provision

The Childcare Act has received Royal Assent, giving parents who work, or want to work, new rights to childcare provision.

The Act places a duty on local authorities to secure sufficient childcare for all parents who choose to work or are in training in preparation for work as well as a duty to provide information and advice to parents about childcare and other services to support parents.

Local authorities will have to work in partnership with the private and voluntary sector to ensure a diverse and sustained childcare market, the Act says.

It also creates two new registers run by Ofsted, which aim to give parents greater confidence about the childcare they choose.

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes called the Act “an historic and radical piece of legislation”.

“[This legislation] is the first solely dedicated to early years and childcare – [it] redraws the boundaries of the welfare state ensuring that early years services are at the heart of what families can expect in their local areas,” she said.

Personnel Today is backing a campaign to introduce tax breaks for carers. Under the proposals, tax breaks would enable employers to offer a voucher for employees who care for a dependent relative, similar to those available for childcare.

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