Clegg supports childcare moves

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More South Yorkshire families will be able to receive 15 hours a week free childcare for their two-year-olds from next September, Deputy PM Nick Clegg has confirmed.

The scheme will cover 40 per cent of children across the Yorkshire and Humber region, at a cost of more than £83 million.

It will double the numbers covered from 16,000 to 32,000.

The Sheffield Hallam MP said the funding would come online at the same time as the new scheme to provide free school meals to all infant pupils.

Councils are expected to target the extra funding for childcare towards school nurseries and childminders during working hours between 8am and 6pm.

Nurseries will be encouraged to expand their opening hours to give working parents more flexibility.

Mr Clegg said: “I want to give children the best possible start in life to get them ready to learn, progress, and aim high.

“That’s why we’re investing in early education for children in Sheffield to give them the chance to start school on an equal footing with their peers.

“Next year the number of two-year-olds who receive free childcare will increase, giving around 32,000 children in the region access to high quality childcare that can make a real impact to their lives.”

The free school meal initiative, a pet project for Mr Clegg, is set to be boosted by £12.6m in Yorkshire.

The extra cash will go to schools to help them expand their kitchen and dining facilities, so they can cater for all under sevens.