Boris Johnson will this week announce plans to relax childcare rules in order to save families £40 per week.
A package of measures to bring down the cost of child care will include increasing the number of toddlers each adult can look after in nurseries, and allowing childminders to spend more time working from locations such as village halls, rather than their own homes.
The changes, which will be subject to a consultation, are designed to bring down the costs of nursery fees, which have reached an average of £265 a week for two-year-olds, compared to £236 a week for childminders. Ministers are expected to claim that the proposals would save families £40 a week.
Under plans being overseen by Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, ministers will also pledge to help more people to become childminders by relaxing the rules on where they can work.
Currently, childminders are expected to care for children in their own home, or someone else’s residential property, but in many cases would-be childminders may not live in suitable flats or houses.
Under the changes, childminders would be allowed to spend substantial amounts of time looking after children at other venues, such as community centres, churches and village halls.
Separately, nurseries are currently required to enforce a ratio of at least one member of staff looking after four children aged two. That ratio is expected to increase to allow one staff member to look after five two-year-olds at any one time.
Opposition to changes is likely
The changes are likely to be opposed by some campaigners. A petition on the Parliament website states that “increasing how many children an adult can legally be held responsible for risks increasing the danger that those young children, the most vulnerable in society, are being subjected to” and has gained more than 63,500 signatures.
But the changes follow calls from figures such as Brett Wigdortz, the founder of Teach First, for child care reform to help tackle the cost of living. Last month, Mr Wigdortz, who now runs Tiney, a network of childminders, said: “All too often overlooked in policy discussions, child-minding offers cheaper options for parents, high-quality care for children, and the chance for practitioners to earn a decent wage ... We need practical policies to drive up the number of childminders.”
The announcements come after a poll last week showed voters turning on the Government and the Bank of England over the cost of living crisis, with almost one in three saying that excessive public spending was “significantly” to blame for high inflation.
A survey of 1,500 people for The Telegraph found that 29 per cent believed that soaring government spending was more to blame for rising inflation than disruption arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supply chain problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the same poll, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, 59 per cent of people said they disapproved of Boris Johnson’s performance on the economy – up almost 20 percentage points from an equivalent survey seven months ago.
In May, Andrew Griffith, Mr Johnson’s policy chief, floated the possibility of cutting fees associated with being a childminder, saying: “An experienced mum seeking to become a childminder faces hundreds of pounds of compulsory learning levies and inspection fees.”
Discussing ways to reduce inflation and cut the cost of living, he added: “Imagine if overnight we could reduce every charge and levy that the state imposes. Not the general pot of taxation that pays for public services, but all of the other fees charged by different levels of government, regulators and quangos. From TV licences to passport application fees.”