I blogged here about how the Government plans to bring in a new requirement for parents to look for work once their youngest child reaches age 3.
This will apply to 1 and 2 parent households claiming in-work benefit such as Tax Credits or the new Universal Credit as well as to households where parents are not currently in paid employment.
In the July 2015 Budget speech the Chancellor George Osborne said:
“To make sure work pays for parents, I can confirm that, from September 2017 all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds will receive free childcare of up to 30 hours a week.
As a result we now expect parents with a youngest child aged 3, including lone parents, to look for work if they want to claim Universal Credit.”
MPs will be debating this on July 21st. I blogged here about contacting your MP prior to the debate.
The plan hinges on new free childcare which is being introduced via the Childcare Bill currently going through the House of Lords. (‘Bills’ are so called till they have finished going through Parliament and received royal assent at which point they become ‘Acts’, so ultimately this will be the Childcare Act. Most Bills start in the Commons but this Bill happens to have started in the Lords)
The Childcare Bill has already been subject to a huge amount of criticism for not being clear about what is proposed and how it will be funded. (Click on image to view larger version in new tab)
It was not until after the Bill had been printed that the Minister told peers some of the vital details
the definition of “working” has been determined to include: working parents with children aged three and four; where parents are working part time or full time, the only requirement is that each parent is working the equivalent of eight hours per week, which is the same threshold as the tax-free childcare scheme; the entitlement can be accessed by parents who are employed or self-employed; and lone parents who are working to support their families.
During Committee peers further debated the eligibility criteria including the Government’s definition of ‘working parent‘
and the Minister also said
As I have explained, the intention of this additional entitlement is to support working parents. If parents work at least eight hours per week, they will qualify regardless of whether they are engaged in education, training, voluntary work or additional work experience.
I will cover this topic in greater detail in subsequent blog posts but just wanted to flag up the following:
Parliamentary Inquiry 2014 into childcare for disabled children chaired by Pat Glass MP and Robert Buckland MP 2014 [Link] (Click on image to view larger version in new tab)
Lords Select Committee Enquiry into Affordable Childcare 2015 [Link] (Click on image to view larger version in new tab)
More on benefit changes here