Families in Tynedale and Ponteland are being urged by Guy Opperman MP to apply for the Government's extended free childcare scheme.

Parents of two-year olds who are eligible will benefit from 15 hours of free childcare each week, starting April 2024.

At present, the scheme provides 30 hours of free childcare for working parents with three and four year olds.

Applications for the first phase of the rollout opened at the start of the month.

It is advised that parents apply between mid-January and the end of February to ensure they receive their eligibility code by the March 31 deadline, ahead of the childcare places becoming available in April 2024.

Mr Opperman said: "I know that many families across Tynedale and Ponteland struggle with the costs of childcare.

"I have a toddler myself, and arranging weekly childcare is incredibly expensive.

"It is welcome that the Government is extending its childcare offer to specifically target hardworking families to help with the high costs of childcare.

"This will be a relief to many people."

From this September, 15 hours of free childcare will be extended to all children from the age of nine months, and by September 2025, working parents of children under the age of five will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare per week.

Mr Opperman said: "England has some of the finest childcare provision in the world, with 96 per cent of early years settings rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding.

"This extension of Government support means that more young people in Northumberland can have the very best start in life."