Free childcare will be extended so it benefits double the number of families on low incomes, the Deputy Prime Minister says.

Some 130,000 two-year-olds are currently eligible for free childcare, based on whether their family qualifies for free school meals or whether they are cared for by a local authority (see our Childcare Costs Help guide).

But the Government is promising to bolster the handout, so it will be offered to 40% of parents with two-year-olds next year.

It will be available to 260,000 toddlers, whose families earn less than 16,190 per year and receive working tax credits.

Adopted children, those in care and youngsters with a disability or special educational needs will also benefit from the changes to be brought in next September, Nick Clegg says.

"From today, if you're a parent on a low income with a two-year-old in the family, you'll qualify for up to 15 hours a week of free early education for your child," Clegg says.

"This free support is focused on helping the families that need it most. That's around 130,000 two-year-olds one in every five two-year-olds.

"And from this time next year, we will extend that helping hand even further, doubling the number of youngsters getting a brighter start in life."

The Government says it is spending 534 million this year in providing childcare, a figure which will go up to 760 million in 2014/15.

Martin Lewis
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Free childcare