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Child Care Costs

Volume 534: debated on Monday 24 October 2011

22. What estimate he has made of the potential effect on the number of women leaving work of his planned reduction in refundable child care costs. (76005)

We are not planning any reductions in support for child care. In fact, as the hon. Gentleman will have noted, we recently committed ourselves to investing £300 million more in child care support under universal credit, on top of the £2 billion already spent on child care support. As a result of that support, some 80,000 more households will be eligible for child care, which must be welcome.

I am not sure that the Secretary of State’s message has been conveyed to the public. Many working families are very concerned both about the high price of child care and about the fact that it is rising, and believe that they will be worse off as a consequence of the changes that are being made. How does the Secretary of State propose to ensure that his message gets across, to Labour Members as well as those on the Government Benches?

I know that the hon. Gentleman holds genuine views on these matters. Obviously we must ensure that we listen more to people, and explain to them the changes that universal credit will bring. The end of the 16-hour rule and the provision of child care for those working fewer than 16 hours a week will be of major benefit, particularly to lone parents. Under the present system, some 100,000 people do not take up the child care support element of working tax credit to which they are entitled because they are not aware of it, so this will be a big breakthrough.