All three and four-year-olds can benefit from 12.5 hours a week free early years provision, irrespective of the employment status of their parents. This will rise to 15 hours a week by 2010.
The Office for National Statistics shows the North East region having a population of 52,1001 three and four-year-olds, and the 2006 Early Years and Schools Censuses show the number of part time early education places funded by the free entitlement for three and four-year-olds in the North East region as 50,9002. The number of part time early education places funded by the free entitlement for three and four year olds in Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland parliamentary constituency
area was 1,9001.
A pilot scheme for disadvantaged two-year-olds offering 7.5 hours per week free early years provision is also available in Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Durham and South Tyneside until March 2008. This will benefit a total of 1,200 children in the North East.
The child care element of working tax credit (WTC) is available for meeting up to 80 per cent. of the cost of registered or approved childcare to a maximum cost of £175 a week for one child and £300 a week for two children or more. The average number of families in each constituency benefiting from the child care element of working tax credit in 2004-05 is available in the HMRC statistical publication “Child and Working Tax Credit Statistics. Finalised Awards 2004-05. Geographical analyses”, which is available on the HMRC website at: www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-stats.htm. Estimates for 2005-06 are due to be published in May.
In addition to the child care element of working tax credits, child care used by parents can be subsidised in a variety of ways including local authority subsidies, Jobcentre Plus new deals, care to learn, learner support funds and NHS child care allowances. Wider data on eligibility for financial support for child care are not however available centrally.
1 As at December 2005. ONS population estimates are aggregated to age groupings of at least five years. Figures based on a single year of age at the sub-national level are therefore of limited reliability.
2 The number of children benefiting from some form of free early education can exceed the number of free part-time early education places taken up by children as a place may be taken up by more than one child.