As a result of changes introduced since 2004, all families in London (as elsewhere in England) with three and four-year-olds are entitled to 12.5 hours of free early learning and child care per week, and this will rise to 15 hours per week from September 2010. Since September 2009, all local authorities in London have also received funding of 10 hours of free early learning and child care per week to their 15 per cent. most disadvantaged two-year-olds.
Parents in London can also receive support for child care costs through the tax credits system. In 2006, the threshold of costs that were available to parents was increased from 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. In London the number of families benefiting increased by over 12,000 between 2004-05 and 2007-08 (the latest year for which figures are available).
From 2005 to 2009, a joint initiative by the Government and the London Development Agency, the London Childcare Affordability Pilots 2005, offered parents more affordable and flexible child care places. At its peak the pilot provided over 6,000 subsidised flexible day care places.
Since 2009 the Childcare Affordability Pilots have been trialling with London families two possible improvements to the support for child care costs that they receive through the child care element of working tax credit. The pilots are assessing the impact on child care take up of offering families 100 per cent. of their child care costs up to £215 per week for one child rather than the usual £140; and, for families with a disabled child, paying 80 per cent. of their child care costs up £300 per week for one child. Both strands offer up to £350 per week if parents have more than one child.