Skip to main content

Universal Credit

Volume 543: debated on Monday 23 April 2012

5. What assessment he has made of the means by which universal credit will deliver funding for childcare. (104204)

We have committed to invest some £2.3 billion in child care support in universal credit—that is £2 billion spent on the current system and an extra £300 million we secured in order to extend support to parents working less than 16 hours. That should give them what is really important—support in work across the hours—and it means that some 80,000 more families will get child care under universal credit.

In the Netherlands there is a system of agencies that train and regulate childminders. That country has twice the number of childminders per head than we do in the UK and its child care is also more affordable. Will the Secretary of State look into what happens in the Netherlands, with a view to getting better value for the universal credit money and getting more people into work as childminders?

I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that she has been doing on this. She is quite right that it is an important area and it is one that I have asked my Department and the Department for Education to consider together. Under the previous Government, the number of childminders fell quite dramatically. In 1996, there were about 100,000 and in 2011 that number had fallen below 60,000. That is a huge issue. When we took over, we found that the costs of child care in the UK are about the fourth highest in the world. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there are big issues that we need to deal with and try to resolve so that we can get more people back to work with the support that they need.