HC Deb 26 March 1998 vol 309 cc673-4
9. Mr. Jim Cunningham

How he intends to support the provision of child care in deprived areas. [34902]

Mr. Alan Howarth

The provision of child care in deprived areas depends on parents being able to afford it. Last week, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the introduction of a new working families tax credit, including a child care tax credit worth up to 70 per cent. of eligible child care costs up to £100 per week for one child and £150 for two children.

Coupled with our previous announcement of £300 million to expand out-of-school child care provision in every community which needs it over the next five years, and our packages to help lone parents and other unemployed people back into work under the new deal, this will make child care affordable and accessible for many more families, including those in deprived areas.

Mr. Cunningham

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but will he set a time scale for the introduction of child care into deprived areas? Often, when lone parents are employed on low wages, two thirds of the family budget goes on child care.

Mr. Howarth

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. For the reason that he gives, we are determined that there should be accessible and affordable child care in every community. The rules that the previous Government drew up for the out-of-school child care initiative effectively discriminated against poor communities by insisting that subsidy for child care places could not be provided for longer than 12 months. That requirement failed to recognise the difficulties that there are in developing and establishing child care provision in areas of disadvantage. We must ensure that potential providers of child care in deprived communities have not only the money but the time to establish themselves, and enough continuity of support to break through into sustainability.