The Childcare Act 2006 gives local authorities a key role in shaping the childcare market in their area. Working with providers from the private, voluntary, independent and maintained sectors, the local authority will look to create a strong, sustainable and diverse childcare market that meets the needs of parents. It focuses in particular on sufficient, sustainable and flexible childcare that is responsive to parents' needs.

Section 6, of the 2006 Act gives local authorities a duty of securing, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the provision of childcare (whether or not by them) is sufficient to meet the requirements of parents in their area in order to enable them to:

  • Take up, or remain in, work, or
  • Undertake education or training which could reasonably be expected to assist them to obtain work.

The Children and Families Act 2014 requires that a report be prepared annually for elected council members on how they are meeting their duty to secure sufficient childcare.

Local authorities are responsible for determining the appropriate level of detail in their report, geographical division and date of publication. However, the report should include:

  • A specific reference to how they are ensuring there is sufficient childcare available to meet the needs of: disabled children; children from families in receipt of the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit; families who work irregular working patterns, children aged two, three and four taking up early education places; school age children; and children needing holiday care;
  • Information about the supply and demand of childcare for particular age ranges of children, and the affordability, accessibility and quality of provision; and
  • Details of how any gaps in childcare provision will be addressed.

Download the Childcare Sufficiency Report 2022/23

Download the Childcare Strategic Action Plan 2022/23