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Government announces more money for nurseries, but they say it is only a small percentage of what they need to deliver its childcare policies.
The Government has announced £66 million for maintained nurseries and other childcare providers to deliver the government’s childcare schemes in its one-year spending round.
The schemes include tax-free childcare and the 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds. The announcement was part of a £7.1bn spending increase for education by 2022-23 compared to the current fiscal year. In a speech widely seen as a precursor to a general election, Chancellor Sajid Javid said he was ‘turning the page on austerity’ with the fastest planned increase in day-to-day departmental spending for 15 years. That included an extra £1.5 billion for social care.
There was no mention, however, of any end to the benefits freeze which has left many working families struggling to put food on their tables.
The extra money for nurseries was welcomed by campaigners, but they said it was only 10% of what they needed to bridge the funding gap in the private, voluntary and independent sector caused, in part, by years of nurseries struggling to deliver childcare schemes which they claim have not been fully funded by government.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “The early years sector has been holding its breath, waiting desperately for some reprieve from years of government underfunding. While any extra money is welcome, the £66 million announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for early education will not make even the smallest inroad into bridging the £662 million funding gap in the sector. We are nearing a tipping point where parents will no longer be able to bear the increase in fees and optional extras that childcare providers are forced to charge to subsidise the funding shortfall. Many childcare providers have already reached that tipping point and have closed for good. On today’s news, expect more childcare price hikes and more closures.”