HC Deb 31 October 2002 vol 391 c910W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the role of her Department in improving access to child care for working parents. [76459]

Maria Eagle

A new unit, led by Baroness Ashton, accountable for delivery to the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions, will administer a budget of £1.5 billion a year by 2005–06. This represents a doubling of child care spending in real terms.

By March 2004, new child care places for 1.6 million children will be created. New places for a further 450,000 children will be created by 2006. There are specific initiatives—like the establishment of children's centres and neighbourhood nurseries— which will provide more good quality, safe child care in disadvantaged areas.

Substantial help with child care costs is provided to lower income families through the child care tax credit element of the working families tax credit. This assistance will continue in an improved and more flexible form as part of the working tax credit from April 2003.