“Start the spending”: Universal Childcare Act to cost “around £65 billion at most” claims former Minister

A former Minister, who wishes to remain anonymous, has claimed the Universal Childcare Act was discussed amongst the cabinet in January to cost “around £65 billion at most”. The previous budget allocated only £1 billion in “seed funding”, yet Monday’s Queen’s Speech saw the Government promise to “start the spending.” If this estimate is proven to be accurate, the budget for the Universal Childcare Act would exceed that of the Ministry of Defense.

The cost of the Universal Childcare Act, colloquially referred to as Ambercare, has largely been a mystery. The author of the Act, /u/Amber_Rudd, refused to publish the associated cost before the Act received Royal Assent, in October stating “costs are largely dependent” on “take-up rate among parents” and “how comprehensive” the government chooses to implement the legislation.

Departing Chancellor of The Exchequer dismissed the Act as “a ticking time bomb” in a resignation statement made last week. Going further to describe “a threat to our nation’s [finances]… which could have easily been ripped out of a 1970’s Labour manifesto.”

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement was published by the Telegraph on the 25th February.

In the leaked coalition agreement between the governing parties, the Government will aim to “roll out” the Act starting in the 2022/23 financial year using a “calculator”. A Conservative spokesperson refused to comment when approached by the Telegraph, instead urging “that there is an appointment of the Cabinet and the Queen’s Speech to be done before the implementation of legislation.” The Conservative Party has been approached for further comment. A Liberal Democrat spokesperson described “such a figure” as being “a high estimate.”

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