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Government statistics "only tell half the story"

By Rachel Lawler
 
child blowing bubbles
The Alliance has warned that government statistics on take-up of the 30-hours offer “only tell half the story” as the Department for Education releases experimental statistics on this year’s autumn term.
 
The statistics show that 95% of eligibility codes issued for the 30-hours in the autumn term have been validated by providers or local authorities with around 240,000 children now accessing a 30-hours place.
 
Validated codes
Before the end of this year, 334,189 eligibility codes for spring term 2019 had already been issued and 220,011 of these were validated. Parents have until 31 December to apply for a code, which can be validated in January when they confirm their childcare place.
 
Top-up fees
However, the Alliance has warned that these statistics do not give the full story.
 
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “These statistics don’t tell the full story of 30 hours so it’s important to take them with a pinch of salt. It’s good to see that most local authorities are finally validating most eligibility codes - but these numbers don’t show either how many of these parents receive truly ‘free’ childcare, nor how many providers are struggling to deliver funded hours.
 
“There is, however, plenty of research which can fill in the blanks. We know from a study the government itself commissioned, for example, that over half of parents accessing 30 hours said they had to pay charges for additional items or activities. And the reason for these charges is clear: providers are worried they won’t survive the next 12 months unless funding changes so feel they have no choice but to ask parents to pick up the government’s tab.
 
“It simply isn’t acceptable that ministers - who are aware of this research, and know that costs have gone up as funding has seen been cut in real terms - continue to retreat into statistics which tell only half the story. It’s time they face facts, admit that their childcare policies are driving up costs for parents and forcing providers to close, and ensure funding levels match the true cost of providing quality childcare.”
 
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