Boris Johnson called for more parents to be able to use taxpayer-funded childcare support for after-school social and sports clubs.
The Prime Minister named toddler clubs such as Tumble Tots and Little Kickers – groups he was familiar with from being a parent in north London – as he outlined his hopes.
Mr Johnson also said he wanted to attract more people to become childminders, with numbers dropping across the country in recent years.
The comments were delivered in an interview given to Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, during which he answered questions from users of the website.
It is the latest public indication of a shake-up in childcare that Mr Johnson is personally driving through Whitehall, in part to help with the cost of living crisis.
“If parents had better, more confident access to childcare, you would have a massive benefit to the economy,” the Prime Minister said during the interview.
He mentioned two specific changes being pursued. The first was about the range of childcare options which can benefit from taxpayer support.
The Tax-Free Childcare scheme allows hundreds of thousands of households to claim up to £2,000 a year back from their childcare bills.
Only childcare providers which are officially signed up to the scheme can be used. After-school clubs and play schemes are included as possible beneficiaries.
However, officials at the Department for Education are concerned that only a small proportion of such schemes are signed up, meaning scores of parents are unable to benefit from the support.
The second drive mentioned is about convincing more people to become childminders. Officials fear that the bureaucracy of signing up via Ofsted, the schools regulator, is putting off applicants.
Earlier this year, research published by HM Revenue & Customs found that 1.3 million families are eligible for the childcare tax break but have not claimed it.
The Prime Minister personally commissioned a drive after becoming convinced of the need to drive down childcare costs late last year.
The Department of Education is expected to publish a consultation on raising the minder to child ratios before the summer recess – another strand of the work.
Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, is said by those who work with him to be “on the same page” on the childcare drive as the Prime Minister.
The issue has been discussed by a new Cabinet sub-committee focused on finding ways to help families with soaring costs without tax cuts or new spending.
PM reveals life as a parent
During the Mumsnet interview, the Prime Minister also said he is “very fast” at changing nappies when discussing his life as a parent.
Carrie, his wife, gave birth to their first child Wilfred in 2020, and then their daughter Romy in 2021.
The Prime Minister said: “I’m doing a lot at the moment, Justine, and I’m saying that without any fear of inhibition or fear of contradiction. I can tell you I’ve changed a lot of nappies recently. I’m very fast by the way.”
He added that his favourite books to read to his son were Dr Seuss books, and then began quoting The Cat In The Hat Comes Back.
“‘This was no time for play. This was no time for fun. This was no time for games. There was work to be done’ – which is our motto in Number 10. There’s work to be done,” he said.
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( Information from telegraph.co.uk was used in this report. To Read More, click here )