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Government statistics reveal ‘postcode lottery’ for 30-hours offer

By Shannon Hawthorne

Parents are facing a ‘postcode lottery’ when trying to secure a 30-hours place, according to statistics from local authorities.
The figures were published by children and families minister Robert Goodwill in response to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Lucy Powell. The numbers offer a regional breakdown of the number of parents who were given a eligibility code for the 30-hours offer and were able to validate it by 5 September 2017. Overall, 71% of codes issued nationwide had been validated by 5 September 2017.
In order to access the offer, parents must obtain an eligibility code online and pass it on to their childcare provider who will validate it with their local authority.
Postcode lottery
The new statistics reveal that 65 local authorities were not meeting the national average and were validating less than 71% of issued eligibility codes. By 5 September 2017, 47 local authorities had validated less than two-thirds of the codes issued and 14 had validated less than half.
Local authorities validating less than half included North Yorkshire – one of the 30-hour pilot areas, which has been offering the scheme to parents since April 2017.
The government has not published a breakdown of the latest statistics, which showed that by 12 October the number of eligibility codes validated had increased to 90% nationally. This leaves around 21,000 parents with an eligibility code still yet to secure a 30-hours place.
Autumn term
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We know that the overall validation rate has continued to rise as the term has progressed, and while this is undoubtedly positive, these new figures show that the picture is very different on the ground in many areas, meaning that parents are effectively facing a postcode lottery on places.”
“Add to this the fact that the autumn term is always the quietest for childcare providers, with the squeeze on places likely to get worse as the year progresses, and it’s quite clear that urgent action needs to be taken to avoid a childcare crisis in some areas of the country.”
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