Grants to be available for childcare businesses

Child at a nursery The government says childcare is an important part of getting more women into work

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Grants of up to £500 will be available from next April for people setting up a nursery or childminding business, the government is to to say.

The aim of the £2m scheme is to boost childcare and help more women get work.

The money will help cover legal and insurance costs, health and safety training and equipment. Advice and mentoring will also be available.

Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller said childcare was an important part of getting women into work.

"There are more women in work than ever before and they are playing a vital role in our economic recovery but good quality, affordable and reliable childcare is the key to even more women being able to work," she said.

"More childcare options mean more women can take up jobs, help support their families and realise their own career ambitions.

"The childcare industry is already a major employer of women and this scheme will provide huge opportunities for female entrepreneurs to start up and run their own businesses.

"This is an injection of cash designed to stimulate the sector in tough times. The new scheme will provide more childcare places but will also help get up to 6,000 new childcare businesses off the ground."

Earlier this year, Downing Street launched a review of childcare and childminding to see how it could be made more affordable by cutting red tape.

Government research suggested six out of 10 parents felt there was insufficient childcare locally.

It came after the Department for Education released a report showing almost a quarter of childcare providers in England were making a loss despite fees being among the highest in the world.

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