British Military Personnel To Be Offered Free Childcare

The Defence Secretary says a new £165m childcare scheme for military families "is an important plank of keeping people in the Armed Forces".

Children of British military personnel who are aged between four and 11 years old are to be entitled to free breakfast and after-school childcare as part of new measures to better support the Armed Forces community.

Service personnel based in Buckinghamshire will trial the new offer with pilot schemes beginning in September.

RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton will be the first bases to offer the scheme, with servicemen and women based in Catterick and Plymouth able to access the pilot scheme from January 2021. 

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) says the free 'wraparound' childcare is to be offered more widely from autumn 2021.

It is hoped it will provide assistance for serving parents who are held at readiness for short-notice deployments.

The scheme follows the extension of a Help to Buy property scheme and flexible working arrangements introduced last year.

The MOD says the childcare plan will offer more flexibility and make it easier to retain talented personnel by providing extra support.

WATCH: James Hirst reports on the scheme.

"This is an important plank in keeping people in the Armed Forces – recognising that [in] the modern family both parents are working, that often childcare is one of the issues," the Defence Secretary told Forces News.

He added he believes the measure is a step in the "right direction".

"It's something other people don't have in other parts of the public sector," Mr Wallace said.

"I think it's a really good way of us showing how important the family is to good service life."

He earlier also stated: "I am determined to make the Armed Forces a more modern, inclusive and family-friendly employer, in order to improve the working environment for retention of all personnel but also to encourage more talented women to pursue long, and fulfilling careers in uniform."

Defence People and Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer said: "I know from first-hand experience that while service life is hugely rewarding, it isn't without its challenges when it comes to juggling the demands of family life. 

"It is only right that those who continue to do extraordinary work on behalf of the country are recognised and rewarded, and I'm pleased we're continuing to honour our commitment to our hard-working personnel so they receive the right support to care for loved ones."