(2) if he will give consideration to the merits of phasing the increases in registration and annual fees for pre-schools and full-day nursery care centres.
[holding answer 22 February 2008]: We published impact assessments on the proposed changes to the child care registration and fee arrangements as part of the consultation exercises. On the registration requirements, our assessment did not show an effect on the supply of childminders as we are making only minor adjustments to the existing arrangements. The new system of regulation will provide Ofsted with the information it needs to determine whether essential standards of child welfare have been met and our proposals were supported by a majority of respondents in our consultation exercise last year.
On the proposed fee changes we expect the impact on numbers of childminders to be small. As we made clear in the impact assessment and the consultation document, we are not proposing to remove the current subsidy for registration and inspection costs and we would intend to phase in changes to the fee arrangements over three years, with the changes not complete until 2010. Local authorities are required to secure sufficient childcare available to meet the needs of working parents and have allied powers to assist providers. The fees consultation exercise closed on 20 February 2008 and we will carefully consider all the responses before publishing the Government's response in the spring.