14/08/2014 16:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Nick Clegg: Free Childcare Scheme To Be Extended For Hard-Up Families

The Government has revealed that the free childcare scheme will be extended to 40 per cent of two-year-olds from next autumn.

Nick Clegg has today set out the coalition's plans to help families earning less than £16,190 a year.

The Government had already announced its intention to provide free care for toddlers, but, reports the Guardian, this is the first time the exact numbers have been revealed.

Nearly half of all two-year-olds in England will be offered 15 hours of free childcare from next September, with the Government investing £534m in the scheme.

The Guardian reveals that in a speech later today, Mr Clegg will say:

"From today, if you're a parent on a low income with a two-year-old in the family you'll qualify for up to 15 hours a week of free early education for your child. This free support is focused on helping the families that need it most. That's around 130,000 two-year-olds – one in every five two-year-olds."

"From this time next year, we will extend that helping hand even further, doubling the number of youngsters getting a brighter start in life. All the evidence shows that if you take two children – two five-year-olds hanging up their coats next to each other on the first day of school – the poorer child will already be behind their better off classmate before a single lesson has been taught. Without this help, children suffer and the whole class suffers as teachers have to focus more of their efforts on children who are frustrated and left behind through no fault of their own."

Children who are adopted, are in care or have a disability or special needs will also receive the 15 hours of free care from next year.

The move comes amid widespread anger that the coalition's new childcare tax breaks only benefit families with two working parents.

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