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Farron hails childcare announcement as 'Made in Cumbria'

March 19, 2013 10:56 AM

Tim Farron MP at Kendal Nursery SchoolWorking families could be paid up to £1,200 per child under a new Government childcare support scheme. The scheme has been championed by South Lakes MP Tim Farron. Over 17,000 families in Cumbria will benefit from this policy.

More than two million families could benefit from the tax-free plans set out ahead of the budget. Up to £1,200 would be paid for each child annually - to a maximum of 20% of total childcare costs. Tim has regularly lobbied for cheaper childcare as a way to support the local economy and give young children the best start in life.

The scheme, which will replace the existing employer supported childcare programme (ESC) will come into effect in two years time. To qualify, both parents, or one parent in the case of lone parent families, will have to be in work and each must be earning less than £150,000 a year. Initially the measures will cover children up to five years old, but the level of support will build up "over time" to include children under 12. Ministers say to start with over one million families will benefit, compared to just 450,000 under ESC. Eventually around 2.5 million families will get the new support.

Britain has some of the most expensive childcare costs in the world - with fees rising at more than twice the rate of inflation, according to the Daycare Trust. Supporting young people has been a major campaign of Tim's. Over the last two years Tim helped secure 5600 free early years education places for the poorest Cumbrian children and extra funding for catch up classes for 10 and 11 year olds.

In our area the number of families eligible for Tax Free Childcare is estimated to be:

Cumbria 17,430

Allerdale 3,392

Barrow-in-Furness 2,613

Carlisle 3,962

Copeland 2,554

Eden 1,721

South Lakeland 3,187

Tim said: "As a dad I know how hard it can be to juggle work and family life. I have consistently called on senior government ministers to do more to make childcare affordable and available to everyone. Parents I speak to across our area have told me that this was a major issue for them. That's why we lobbied hard for this new scheme - today's announcement is a testament to parents of South Cumbria who raised the issue with me.

"Every parent who wants to work should be able to - without seeing every penny of their wages disappear in childcare bills. Add in the cost of travel to work and mums can find themselves effectively working full time for just a couple of pounds a week. It's absurd and I've called for the government to do more to help them. This announcement today will make a big difference to thousands of people and is very welcome news."