A ROLLOUT of free childcare hours has been called a ‘sensible measure’ by Andover’s MP.

Hundreds of families in Andover and North West Hampshire are now able to get help from the Government with their childcare costs.

Working parents of two-year-olds can now receive 15 hours of government-funded childcare per week.

From September, this will be extended even further for children over nine-months-old. 

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By September 2025, the full roll-out will be completed. Working parents will be able to access

30 hours per week from the end of maternity leave to when their child starts school, saving them thousands of pounds a year. 

On the changes, MP Kit Malthouse said: “This is good news for working parents in Andover and across North West Hampshire who can now access 15 hours of government-funded childcare per week, if they have a two-year-old. 

"This is a sensible measure that will save families significant amounts of money, and at the same time boost the economy by helping parents back into work. 

"Importantly, the government is also helping childcare providers by increasing the number of staff and places and encouraging the recruitment of childminders. 

"If you are a parent of a child under-two, I urge you to check your eligibility for the September phase of the rollout, and act now to secure your place."

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The Government is providing more than £400m of additional investment to uplift funding rates for childcare providers in 2024-25. 

Parents can check their eligibility at childcarechoices.gov.uk for the September phase of the rollout.

Following the first phase of the changes coming into effect Labour has accused the Conservatives of having a “childcare pledge without a plan”, as it said families are still struggling to access places.

The party pointed to an analysis of Ofsted data that suggests the number of childcare places fell by more than 1,000 between March and December last year, ahead of an anticipated increase in demand for places.

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, is calling on the Chancellor to guarantee that eligible parents will not lose out on places as a result of the Conservatives’ “blotched” childcare pledge.