We are committed to ensuring that we have the high-quality affordable childcare that families need, and we are on track to deliver 30 hours of childcare to working parents. We announced a record funding of £1 billion extra per year by 2020; we have consulted on a fairer and more transparent funding system; and eight early implementer areas are already providing more than 3,500 places—one year early.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the greatest potential impact of extending support for childcare is helping families to make the transition from being on benefits and into sustainable employment?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. We must tackle the causes of poverty, and the Government have set out stretching ambitions to remove barriers to work and to increase employment. The 30-hours offer will contribute significantly, helping families with the cost of childcare.
I note the Minister’s earlier response, but I am sure she is aware that of the nurseries that responded to her very own consultation on free childcare half said that they were desperately in need of funding and a quarter said that they were not receiving enough money to cover their basic costs. In the run-up to the general election, the Conservative party promised millions of people in Britain that they would receive 30 hours of free childcare. Given that nurseries are struggling to meet even their basic costs, more money is needed—not just to fulfil this pledge, but to fight off the threat of closure. Will the Minister join me in pushing her Chancellor to include in the autumn statement next week the vital extra funding needed to ensure that our nurseries are protected?
As I have pointed out on numerous occasions today, we are investing an extra £6 billion in this, and the sector has already demonstrated its ability to meet growing demand in the near universal take-up of our current childcare offer. We are now backing this with record investment.