Early years organisations have branded the Government’s new funding rates an ‘insult’ as it was announced the minimum hourly rate for three and four-year-olds will increase by 8p.
The increase in early years funding was announced as part of the spending round in September when the Chancellor said an extra £66m would be invested in early years.
Analysis of the rates revealed today shows that just over 30 per cent of LAs will receive the minimum hourly rate of £4.38 per hour, per child for three to four-year-olds.
The new figures also show that all local authorities in England will receive an increase of 8p per hour, per child for two-year-old places.
The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed continuation of supplementary funding for Maintained Nurseries in 2020/21, enabling local authorities to support settings which care for higher numbers of disadvantaged children.
He said: ‘A child’s early education is crucial to their future success which is why we are increasing our hourly funding rates for councils so that they can continue to deliver high quality and free childcare places.’
The announcement has sparked outcry among sector organisations that believe the increase does little to recognise the huge increases in business costs every year.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: ‘For many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders across the country, the impact of these new funding rates will be negligible.
‘These providers are facing huge increases in business costs every year: rises in the national living and minimum wages, mortgages and rents, business rates, utilities costs – the list goes on and on. And yet, many have seen little to no increase in funding over recent years, and so an increase of just a few pennies is going to do little to help those already struggling to remain sustainable in the long term.’
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, agreed: ‘After three years of a funding freeze with absolutely no money for Early Years, 8 pence per child per hour is an insult to our nation’s children. The Government needs to invest a further £230m to restore cuts to early years provision in order to stop providers having to close down. We call on the Government, yet again, to guarantee their future.’
She also called on the Government to comply with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruling which found the Department for Education must publish information about how early years funding has been calculated.
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), added that with a general election around the corner, it is crucial for all parties to ‘clearly cost any manifesto commitments regarding childcare and early years to ensure it covers real costs of high quality delivery’.