Petition To Increase Early Years Funding In Line With Minimum Pay Rises
In September 2017 the Department For Education (DFE) extended its 15 hours' free childcare scheme for 3-4 year olds to 30 hours per week to help working families. At that time it pledged to make an additional £1 billion investment per year to 2020, to help childcare settings to deliver the free entitlements.
However, funding has been frozen since the rollout. Now the DFE has published the funding rates for 2019/2020 and most will remain the same. Only two local authorities in the UK will see their hourly funding rates rise, while 13 will see a decrease.
The national minimum wage will increase again in April, along with pensions, rents and other overheads; therefore the government needs to increase the childcare funding rates in line with these for settings to survive.
Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance says:
“... the government is asking providers to do the impossible: deliver the same quality service with less resource. It would be an unsustainable approach in any sector, but given how vital the early years is to children's long-term learning and development, to do so for this sector is downright irresponsible.”
Since the announcement of the 30 hours, the childcare sector has been very clear that, without sufficient funding, the scheme simply will not be viable in the long term.
The Pre-school Learning Alliance is a registered educational charity and is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. It has recently conducted an online survey of 1662 nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England; the findings reveal that only around a third (35%) of childcare providers are delivering 30 hours places ‘completely free’ to all parents, with a further 36% delivering fully free places to some, but not all, parents and 28% of providers delivering no fully free places. Like the 15-hour offer, the 30-hour scheme is optional for providers.
Respondents have laid out in black and white that the 30 hours policy is simply not working, with a continued lack of adequate funding leaving many with no option but to pass the funding shortfall on to parents. This has left parents to pay the price for government underfunding through often unexpected charges for things like nappies, food and trips, while the government continues to claim that it’s delivering on its promise of ‘free’ childcare.
A petition has been launched to the UK Government and Parliament to campaign for an increase in early years funding in line with minimum pay rises. Please help us secure the future of funded places for 3-4 years olds by signing TODAY.
At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition
At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.