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UK to announce 4 billion pound boost for childcare in England - Guardian

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt talks to a television crew outside the BBC headquarters in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's finance minister Jeremy Hunt is set to provide a 4 billion pound ($4.87 billion) expansion to free childcare for one and two year-olds in England in his budget plan on Wednesday, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

The Guardian report did not cite named sources for the information. The finance ministry said it would not comment ahead of the budget.

On Sunday, Hunt said he would use this week's budget plan to remove barriers, including high childcare costs, that are stopping people from working and causing a major problem for employers after the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.

Broadly, Hunt is expected to keep his grip on public finances in the budget, holding off on any big tax cuts or spending increases until the next election comes closer into view.

According to children's charity Coram, the average annual price for full-time nursery childcare in England for a child under two was more than 14,000 pounds in 2022.

That makes Britain's childcare among the most expensive in the world, according to the OECD, and the government is being urged to do more to help with the costs in order to boost workforce participation among parents of young children.

($1 = 0.8218 pounds)

(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman; editing by William James and Tomasz Janowski)