Local authorities given responsibility for adequate childcare provision

Local authorities will be required by law to ensure there are enough childcare places to meet the needs of working parents in their area, under proposed plans from the government.

A consultation paper, published by children’s minister Beverley Hughes, proposes that councils work in partnership across all sectors and particularly with the voluntary and private sectors to shape the future provision of childcare.

The Childcare Bill, which will be discussed in this Parliamentary session, will:

  • give local authorities the lead role in ensuring that the childcare meets the needs of working parents – particularly those on low incomes and with disabled children

  • require local authorities to improve services for all children under five and close the gaps between the poorest and the rest, by ensuring early years services are integrated and accessible

  • ensure people have access to the full range of information they may need as a parent

  • lead to a reformed, simplified, childcare and early years regulation framework to reduce bureaucracy and focus on raising quality

Hughes said: “The availability of childcare is a key factor in allowing parents to make a real choice about how they balance their work and home lives. What we are announcing today will help ensure all parents can expect a reasonable level of access to affordable, flexible childcare.”

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