Parents on zero-hour contacts may have trouble claiming the new 30 hours of free childcare scheme, which is due to be launched in September.
I’m in insecure employment. Will I be able to make a claim?
Under plans to extend the free childcare provision from 15 hours to 30 hours, all parents in a household must be working at least 16 hours per week.
However, parents working on zero-hours contracts would need to be reassessed every three months to determine whether their employment qualifies them to continue receiving 30 hours of free childcare. This means that some families will be left to make up the shortfall in their childcare payments if they are unable to work the required 16 hours.
The Department for Education said that parents will have to prove they work a minimum of 16 hours every week by presenting payslips.
Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, warned that low-income families in insecure employment will be uncertain how much free childcare they will receive from one month to the next.
“I know what it’s like to bring up kids when you’re trapped in low-paid, insecure work and support for childcare is a lifeline,” she said. “Now the government is pulling that lifeline away. It’s a slap in the face for parents who are stuck in zero-hours contracts and just want to get on and get by.”
While all three-and four-year-olds will continue to be entitled to 15 hours free childcare a week, only half of these children will qualify for the additional scheme.
The scheme is being piloted but is due to be rolled out nationwide later this year. Some childcare providers have already voice concerns that the grant supplied by the Government will not cover the full cost of the scheme.
A recent survey by the Family and Childcare Trust found that only a third of local authorities believed there would be enough childcare available for all three and four year olds taking up the 30 hour offer.