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Child Care

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

2. What assistance the Government provide to parents who need child care in order to take up training. (146020)

I am announcing £75 million over the next three years so that 50,000 workless families can benefit from free child care, helping parents to gain access to training and move into work. This is in addition to a number of other schemes that help parents pay for child care while training, including care to learn for young parents, learner support funds for adult learners and the new deal for lone parents as well as special pilot schemes in London. Together with the existing schemes, this new funding will help to establish a more comprehensive and coherent system that reaches those in most need of support.

I thank my right hon. Friend for the answer and for the announcement of the extra funding. Will that help the small number of young women in particular who cannot claim working tax credit to support their apprenticeships because they are in non-employed apprenticeships and, if they are over 20, also cannot claim care to learn child care support? If that funding will not help them, can she consider how we can help them?

I thank my hon. Friend for her interest in this matter. As she implies, people on apprenticeships that are classed as employment can apply for working tax credit and, contrary to popular belief, that applies to parents from age 16, not from age 25. She is right that young people on apprenticeships that are classed as non-employed are eligible for education maintenance allowance and, in some instances, care to learn funding. I will take on board my hon. Friend’s comments and make sure that we examine the small number of young people who may fall between those stools. We need to ensure that we have a comprehensive system as a result of the funding and that we can assist all those who need help with child care to get into training or work.

I call the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke). If she feels more comfortable, she can address the House from a seated position.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What assistance is available to parents who are not seeking work or training, but whose children would particularly benefit from good early-years provision, which may help them to break out of the spiral of poverty within the family?

In addition to all the general Sure Start funding that the Government have put in, to the tune of £21 billion, a specific amount—£3 billion per annum—has been made available to fund free nursery entitlement for every three and four-year-old. That is of great benefit, especially for children from more disadvantaged families, in which parents may not be working but can use that entitlement to get into training or work. In addition, we have some special pilots focused on children over two but under three who do not necessarily qualify for the full entitlement. The pilots are focused in very disadvantaged areas to see whether, by getting those children into early education, we can assist their parents into training and work.