Childcare Bill

LGA Childcare Bill House of Lords, Consideration of amendments 2 February 2016

Key messages

  • Local government plays an important role in providing support to children in their early years and has a strong commitment to giving every child the best start in life.  
  • The investment of over £1 billion more a year by 2019-20 in free childcare places for two, three and four-year-olds, announced in the Spending Review, is necessary to enable the expansion of an already underfunded system. 
  • We look forward to working with central government and childcare providers to ensure the new national early years funding formula enables councils and providers to meet the needs of working parents and provides high quality places for every child that needs one.
  • We are pleased the Government listened and has removed clauses which would have allowed the Secretary of State to prescribe the types of and times at which childcare is provided. The clauses would have placed duties on local authorities that they have little control over. 
  • The LGA is calling for local authorities to have greater flexibility to expand council-maintained childcare provision in order to secure additional capacity in the most cost-effective way.
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LGA briefing, Remaining Stages, House of Commons, Monday 26 January

Key messages

  • Local government plays an important role in providing support to children in their early years and has a strong commitment to giving every child the best start in life.  
  • The investment of over £1 billion more a year by 2019-20 in free childcare places for two, three and four-year-olds, announced in the Spending Review, is necessary to enable the expansion of an already underfunded system.
  • We look forward to working with central government and childcare providers to ensure the new national early years funding formula enables councils and providers to meet the needs of working parents and provides high quality places for every child that needs one.
  • We are pleased the Government listened and has removed clauses which would have allowed the Secretary of State to prescribe the types of and times at which childcare is provided. The clauses would have placed duties on local authorities that they have little control over.
  • The LGA is calling for local authorities to have greater flexibility to expand council-maintained childcare provision in order to secure additional capacity in the most cost-effective way.
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LGA briefing, Second Reading, House of Commons

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the Government's intention to make childcare more affordable. However, we are concerned that the Childcare Bill will increase the cost pressures on local government as it creates a duty on councils to deliver 30 hours free childcare. Whilst we support the principle of extending free childcare, we are concerned about the risks associated with placing additional costs on an already underfunded system.
  • We therefore support clause 1, introduced as a cross-party amendment in the House of Lords, as it requires an independent review of the funding available for childcare to be held before sections 2 to 6 can come into force. A review of funding will be crucial to ensuring that the Government and local authorities are able to meet the commitments being given in this legislation.
  • The Bill gives additional powers to the Secretary of State which are excessive and prescriptive, while placing duties on local authorities that they have little control over. If the Secretary of State is able to be very prescriptive about local provision, councils need new powers to address gaps in the local market.
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LGA briefing, Third Reading, House of Lords

Key messages

  • LGA analysis suggests that, if the way services are funded and delivered does not change, local government is set to face a funding gap of £9.5 billion and cost pressures of £6.6 billion by 2020.
  • We support the cross-party amendment made at Report Stage that requires an independent review of the funding available to take place before sections 2 to 6 can come into force. A review of funding will be crucial to ensuring that the Government and local authorities are able to meet the commitments being given in this legislation. 
  • The LGA is concerned that the Bill will create further cost pressures on local government as it creates a duty on councils to deliver 30 hours free childcare. Whilst we support the principle of extending free childcare, we are concerned about the risks associated with placing additional costs on an already underfunded system.
  • The Bill gives additional powers to the Secretary of State which are excessive and prescriptive, while placing duties on local authorities that they have little control over. If the Secretary of State is able to be very prescriptive about local provision, councils need new powers to address gaps in the local market.
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LGA briefing, Report Stage, House of Lords

Key messages

  • LGA analysis suggests that, if the way services are funded and delivered does not change, local government is set to face a funding gap of £9.5 billion and cost pressures of £6.6 billion by 2020.
  • The LGA is concerned that the Government amendment 18 led by Lord Nash will create further cost pressures on local government as it creates a duty on councils to deliver 30 hours free childcare. Whilst we do not oppose the extension of free childcare, we are concerned about the risks associated with placing additional costs on an already underfunded system.
  • Government amendment 18 also clarifies the duties on the Secretary of State and local authorities. The LGA is concerned that the Bill gives additional powers to the Secretary of State which are excessive and prescriptive, while placing duties on local authorities that they have little control over.
  • If the Secretary of State is able to be very prescriptive about local provision, councils need new powers to address gaps in the local market of provision.
  • We therefore support amendment 1, led by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, Baroness Pinnock and Baroness Tyler of Enfield, as this will review the funding available for affordable childcare. A review of funding will be crucial to ensuring that the Government and local authorities are able to meet the commitments being given in this legislation.

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LGA briefing: Childcare Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, Wednesday 14 October 2015 (PDF)


LGA briefing, Committee Stage, House of Lords

Key messages

  • Free childcare should meet the needs of working parents and provide high quality places and the funding must reflect this. A review of funding rates is welcome and we support the amendments which would clearly set out the parameters of the review and who would be involved.
  • The criteria by which parents' eligibility for the additional 15 hours a week free childcare is determined is unclear and the LGA supports amendments to clarify this. The LGA would be concerned if the costs of determining eligibility impacted on an already underfunded system.
  • The Government should clarify how the free childcare will be delivered. A move to a dual system, which the Bill appears to introduce, where both local authorities and the Department for Education deliver free places, would add further complexity and cost to an already underfunded system.
  • Amendment 31 would reverse what is widely understood to be a presumption against councils creating childcare places. Given the positive impact of high quality childcare on outcomes for children, public sector places should be part of the offer to parents.

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LGA briefing: Childcare Bill, House of Lords, Committee Stage, Wednesday 1 July 2015 (PDF)


LGA briefing, Second Reading, House of Lords

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the Government's intention to make childcare more affordable. Despite the Bill's best intentions, the LGA has a number of questions about the aims, funding, eligibility and delivery of the additional free childcare.
  • Free childcare should aim both to meet the needs of working parents and provide high quality places for every child that needs one and the funding must reflect this. We welcome the announcement of a review of funding rates and call for councils and providers to be involved in the review process.
  • The criteria by which parents' eligibility for the 30 hours a week free childcare is determined is unclear. The LGA would be concerned if the costs of determining eligibility impacted on an already underfunded system.
  • The Government should clarify the continuing role of local authorities in delivering free childcare. A move to a dual system, as the Bill appears to introduce, where both local authorities and the Department for Education are involved in the delivery of free places, would add further complexity and cost to a system already considered underfunded.
  • The Bill also includes regulation-making powers to allow the Secretary of State to establish a body corporate to fulfil her duties under the Bill. The Government should clarify why this provision is needed and how it intends to use it.

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LGA briefing: The Childcare Bill, House of Lords, Second Reading (PDF, 2 pages, 138KB)

6 January 2017