Childcare grants scheme opened

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A Government scheme worth £2 million aimed at boosting childcare has started taking applications.

Those who want to set up new nurseries can get grants of up to £500, in the hope of launching 6,000 new childcare businesses.

It comes after the Government announced a controversial new tax break for childcare costs for working families, worth up to £1,200 per child per year.

Maria Miller, women and equalities minister, said: "Women are absolutely vital to maximising the UK's economic recovery, so it's more important than ever that we ensure we are doing all we can to get more women into work."

But campaigners for stay-at-home mothers said they were viewed as "irrelevant" and that the Government is "gambling with the future of our children".

Claire Paye, from Mothers at Home Matter, said: "They are not valuing mothers at home at all.

"The Government is going blindly into assuming that childcare is a neutral decision and that it doesn't matter one way or another whether you look after them yourself and that's not necessarily true. Their message is that mothers at home are irrelevant ."

Mrs Miller announced the £2 million fund in November last year, with the Government outsourcing the running of the scheme to Liberata UK.

She added: "We all hear how difficult it is to get childcare and how it is a real barrier for some women getting back into work and we have listened.

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

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