The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Childcare and Early Education has called on the Government to provide almost £3,000 per child to tackle underfunding. It has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pressing on them to work in partnership to address flaws in funding of early years provision.The APPG is calling on the Government to use the upcoming Spending Review to address funding shortages in the early years sector, including those highlighted by the Early Years Alliance’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request last week, which showed that there is a shortfall of £2.60 per child, per hour for every 30 hour place.
The cross-party group wants a catch-up premium of £2,964 per child, per year, under the 30-hours entitlement to ensure the early years sector can meet the needs of children and support parents getting back into work to help drive a post-Covid economic recovery.
It is asking the Government to conduct a ‘meaningful review’ of early years funding to cover:
- A multi-year funding settlement to allow providers certainty and planning over the coming years.
- Developing a mechanism for funding allocation to address rising costs, especially ensuring providers can pay early years professionals the National Living Wage.
- Simplifying the funding system to ensure that Government funding follows child and that parental understanding around the entitlement is improved, especially for two-year olds and tax-free childcare.
- Ensuring effective use of public money and maximum investment in children’s early education and care by minimising barriers like VAT and business rates on providers delivering publicly funded places.
- All allocations of early years funding are undertaken considering of the needs of children with SEND across all settings.
- Setting out a clear vision for the early years and childcare workforce and a restatement of the crucial importance of achieving a well-qualified, high status and better rewarded professionals.
‘Fourth emergency service’
Addressing yesterday’s [Tuesday] APPG, chair Steve Brine MP, said,
‘This is about more than money but also the certainty that our early years sector needs to put the needs of every child at every setting at the heart of their work without having to worry about the future sustainability of those settings or their job in those settings. That’s what we are really about. Despite their status as the fourth emergency service, too many early years settings have actually closed or shed staff in the last 12 months.In addition, the Early Years Alliance has shown that there is a shortfall of £2.60 per child per hour of every 30 hours and this amounts to just shy of £3,000 a year. Now of course, as a Government MP I am very proud and campaigned on the 30 hours places but it has to be fully funded.’
Minister for children and families Vicky Ford praised the ‘strong and dedicated’ early years workforce for the hard work and ‘love and support’ it has provided to children and families during the pandemic. She also recognised the continued need for families to access high quality early education.
‘This is why a couple of weeks ago when we announced our £1.4bn package to boost education recovery we included £153m – so well over 10 per cent of that money – for high quality professional development for early years practitioners, including through new programmes focusing on key areas like speech and language development and physical and emotional development for our youngest children,’
Source Nursery World