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Autumn Budget 2021: More help for families

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Thousands of families are set to receive extra support as part of a £500m package from the government.

New investment of £302m will fund new programmes to support parents, provide bespoke breast feeding services and parent-infant mental support, and funding to rollout Family Hubs across England.

The centres in 75 different areas will provide a “one stop shop” for support and advice.

There will be an additional investment of £170m in 2024-25 to increase the hourly rate to be paid to early years providers to deliver the government’s free childcare hours.

The Labour party have claimed the package was a smokescreen for the Conservatives’ failure to support families in the past, pointing out the scheme’s similarity to Sure Start centres. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the scheme was a “pale imitation” of Labour’s policy to invest in Sure Start and offer universal free childcare for all children aged two to four,

Even before the Covid pandemic, the childcare system in England was failing to meet the needs of children, parents and the economy. The cost and unavailability of childcare put household budgets under strain with many women prevented from taking paid work due to childcare issues.

The Women’s Budget Group said that the pandemic and the government’s response exacerbated the crisis in childcare.