Funding boost for childcare providers in Hampshire

Childcare providers in Hampshire are to receive a cash injection of more than £6 million from Hampshire County Council between now and March 2024. The funding comes from the Government’s new Early Years Supplementary Grant which is designed to increase the amount that early years providers receive for delivering free childcare to eligible children aged between two and four-years-old

Dec 1 2023

In total, the Government has awarded £204 million from its Early Years Supplementary Grant to Local Authorities, to be paid to early years providers in the 2023/24 financial year. The scheme has already seen more than one thousand Hampshire providers benefit from additional funding this autumn.

Councillor Steve Forster, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Making childcare more accessible is vital to help more parents return to work and also to improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children in our communities. However, all of this comes at an extra cost to our providers and, with the early years sector continuing to face significant financial challenges, I know that this additional funding will be greatly welcomed both by our providers and the many families they serve.”

The new Early Years Supplementary Grant will increase the funding that settings receive to provide the following free childcare entitlements:
  • 15 hours entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds
  • 15 hours universal entitlement for three and four-year-olds
  • 15 hours additional entitlement for three and four-year-old children of working parents
  • Early Years Pupil Premium, to support disadvantaged children aged three and four-years-old
  • Disability Access Fund, to support three and four-year-olds with special educational needs and disabilities
The County Council has paid an initial £2.7 million to 1,028 local childcare providers for the autumn term. This allocation is based on the number of children receiving free childcare entitlements, as reported by early years settings following their autumn term headcounts. The remaining £3.3 million is set to be awarded in the spring 2024 term.

It comes as the Government announced its plans earlier this week to expand free childcare for working parents and increase the hourly funding rates paid to early years providers from April next year. New childminders can also receive a financial boost of up to £1,200 with the Government’s Childminder Start Up Grant Scheme, which launched yesterday (30 November 2023).

The plans will see local hourly rates for funded three and four-year-old places increase by 5.1 per cent, from £5.69 to £5.98. Hourly rates for funded two-year-olds and children under two will also rise to £8.32 and £11.30 respectively.

Additionally, the plans will mean that, from September 2025, working parents of children aged between nine months and four years will be able to access up to 30 hours of funded childcare. This is currently only open to working parents with children aged three and four-years-old. The newly expanded childcare offer will be available to parents who earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours at the National Living Wage per week.

The plans will be introduced gradually, starting in April 2024 when eligible parents of two-year-olds will be able to apply to take up 15 hours of funded childcare. Parents are encouraged to apply between mid-January and the end of February to secure their eligibility in good time before the new offer comes into effect. For more information, visit the Childcare Choices website.

Commenting on the Government’s latest plans, Councillor Forster added: “This is more good news for both providers and parents alike. We look forward to going through the plans in more detail and will work closely with our providers as the changes begin to be rolled out next year.”

For more information about early years provision in Hampshire and support with childcare costs, visit the County Council website. This also includes information about working in childcare and early years.

To search for childcare and early years provision in your local area, go to the Family Information and Services Hub.