Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and 30 hours

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated a complaint which questioned whether the government’s information about 30 hours on the Childcare Choices website was misleading.   

The DfE responded to the ASA by reiterating their public statements that government funding is intended to deliver 30 hours a week of free, high quality, flexible childcare but is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables, additional hours or additional services. 

DfE also clarified 30 hours is available over 38 weeks of the year, as is the case with all of the pre-existing entitlements. While information on charging is publically available to parents in the statutory and operational guidance, DfE agreed it would be helpful for this to be incorporated into the Childcare Choices website and was already in the process of updating the website with this information. As we are in the first full year of roll-out for 30 hours government routinely updates the Childcare Choices website to ensure it is relevant and helpful to parents. The latest update included information on charging and is as follows:

“The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.”

The DfE wants to reiterate that LAs should feel confident the information provided on Childcare Choices was, and remains, accurate – they have added some additional information to support parents to understand what they can, and cannot, expect from 30 hours.

Childcare settings should ensure that their promotional material reflects this guidance.

The ASA agreed with the changes made to the website, they have taken the view that the purpose of Childcare Choices website is clear to readers and provides sufficient general information. As such, the ASA decided to close the file in relation to this parent’s complaint.