In the Spring Budget 2023, government announced a package of measures to get more parents into work. This included a significant extension of funded childcare entitlements to children of working parents, increasing eligibility for around 925,000 children.

The Department for Education (DfE) plans to extend entitlements in three waves from April 2024. By September 2025, it expects that all eligible children aged between nine months and four years old will be able to access the equivalent of 30 hours of subsidised childcare hours per week during term-time. DfE expects this to cost an estimated £4.1 billion extra a year by 2027-28, increasing its total annual spending on childcare to £8 billion.

This report will examine DfE’s preparations to extend entitlements, focusing on:

• the current quality and capacity of early years childcare provision in England

• whether DfE has set itself up effectively to deliver value for money through expansion

• whether DfE is effectively managing risks to successfully extending early years childcare

If you would like to provide evidence for our study, please email the study team on, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide but, due to the volume of information we receive, we may not respond to you directly.

NAO Team

Director: Emma Willson
Audit Manager: Ee-Ling Then