Only two local councils in England will see an increase in the funding they are given by central government to subsidise childcare costs, according to the Government’s statistics for the next year.
The figures show funding rates in over a dozen local authorities will fall while in the remaining authorities the rate will stay the same. The Government had previously stated that early years funding rates would be frozen until 2020.
Childcare providers are concerned that many will struggle to survive with rising costs due mainly to an increase in the national minimum wage or may be forced to increase costs to parents.
Childcare got no mention in the Chancellor’s recent autumn statement. A recent survey by the Pre-School Learning Alliance found four in 10 nurseries feared they could close within the next year due to underfunding of the Government’s childcare policy for three and four year olds.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:”In the face of rising costs and, in particular, next year’s minimum wage increase, 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.
“We’ve had plenty of studies from various organisations, independent researchers, even the government itself, which clearly show that childcare in this country is grossly underfunded, and that this underfunding is leading to increased parent fees and, in the worst cases, provider closures. It’s now a matter of urgency that the government recognises that and commits to both increasing and annually reviewing funding levels.”