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Minister says that some “outliers” find that funding doesn’t cover childcare costs
OnNov 8, 2017
By Shannon Hawthorne
Robert Goodwill, the minister for children and families, has insisted that the 30 hours offer is “working successfully” and that only “outlier” providers have struggled with funding.
Labour and Cooperative MP Luciana Berger and Labour MP David Hanson raised a question about the policy in the commons chamber on 6 November. They both asked about the effectiveness of the 30 hour launch earlier this year.
Goodwill said that early evidence was “very encouraging” and said that providers were “willing and able” to deliver the offer to working parents.
Berger mentioned some of the concerns raised by the Champagne Nurseries on Lemonade Funding group and said that a childminder in her constituency has seen her hourly funding rate drop from £6.05 an hour to £4.10 an hour. In response, Goodwill said that there are some “outliers” who are unable to deliver the 30 hours.
The minister said: “I have met a number of nurseries that seem to be outliers that, unlike most, are unable to deliver for that price.” He added: “We would be keen to see that detailed information and to find out why they are outliers, so that we can work with them to ensure that they can deliver within the money, as the majority of providers are doing.”
Goodwill also questioned whether these providers were struggling because they were working with higher staff to child ratios and whether they had high property costs.
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Alliance, rejected the claim that those struggling with the funding were part of a minority. Earlier this year, the Alliance conducted a survey of providers and found that 74% of providers said that the funding does not cover their costs.
Neil said: “The minister must know that when providers are losing thousands of pounds per term, balancing the books is not a simple matter of tweaking ratios or finding other efficiencies.”
“At present, we have an unsustainable system where the onus is on providers to plug the gaps of underfunding by charging parents for ‘optional extras’ such as lunch and trips. That responsibility is for government to bear, not settings and certainly not the parents this policy was designed to help.”
The Alliance is calling on the government to increase funding for the early years in this month’s Budget.
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Read Robert Goodwill's comments in full here.