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Caroline Dinenage suggests providers charge for extras to make 30-hours viable

Early years minister tells nursery owners to charge for additional services if funding doesn’t cover costs
Early years minister Caroline Dinenage has suggested that childcare providers charge parents for additional services in order to top-up the 30 hours of funding provided by the government.
In a meeting with three nursery owners, Dinenage responded to concerns about whether the government’s new funding rates would cover outgoing costs. While she argued that funding rates were increasing, she suggested that providers charge parents for additional services. The group shared the minister’s comments with Nursery World.
Dinenage agreed that the government’s promise of ‘free childcare’ could cause confusion when providers need to charge for additional services, she confirmed that the government’s wording on this offer would not change.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education confirmed: “Providers can charge parents for additional services, but this cannot be a condition of taking up a free 30 hour place.” The DfE also stressed that the 30-hours funding rate was intended to cover the cost of childcare and not consumables, such as drinks, nappies and meals.
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Alliance, commented: “If the government acknowledges that providers need to charge for extras in order to stay afloat, it cannot, in all good faith, continue to promote ‘free’ childcare to parents.” He added that while these additional fees are a critical source of additional funds for some settings, he argued that they should not be used in place of adequate funding.