We are committed to improving the cost, choice and accessibility of childcare, and have spent more than £20 billion over the last five years supporting families with the cost of childcare.
The Government are knowingly underfunding the entitlement to 15 or 30 hours of childcare by over £2 per hour, thereby forcing providers to cross-subsidise and leading to astronomical costs for parents. New Ofsted data shows that 4,000 childcare providers closed within the year to March 2022, thereby further limiting access to childcare. When parents are having to pay more for their childcare than on their rent or mortgage, and adults without children are saying that childcare costs are forcing them out of parenting and precluding them from that, does she agree that she and the Government are presiding over a broken childcare system?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. Childcare is of course enormously important, and it is this Conservative Government who have expanded the childcare offer successively over a number of years. Last year in the spending review, we set out an additional £500 million to come into the sector, and we are also supporting private providers with their energy bills this year.[Official Report, 6 December 2022, Vol. 724, c. 4MC.]