Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, has promised an extra £66m towards early years education in today’s Government spending round.
The £66m will go towards increasing the hourly rate at maintain nursery schools and other childcare providers who deliver on the Government childcare offer.
The additional early years funding is part of a commitment to increase spending across a number of education services, from primary and secondary provision to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Speaking to EYE's sister magazine Nursery World, the Department for Education confirmed that the funding increase will be applied to both the universal 15 hours and 30-hour childcare for working parents. More detail will be provided in the next few days.
Mr Javid said: ‘A good school, inspirational teachers are the most effective engine for social mobility there is, that's why today we are delivering on our pledge to increase school spending by £7.1bn by 2022/23 compared to this year.’
The chancellor revealed that primary schools will be allocated at least £3,750 per pupil, on track to reach £4,000 the following year. He also said there will be an 11 per cent increase in the amount allocated for SEND, with £700m being reserved for children and young people with special educational needs.
Mr Javid confirmed that teachers’ starting salaries will rise to £30,000 by 2022/23 and £1.5bn will be allocated to teachers’ pensions.
Concerns in the sector
Early years organisations have expressed concerns over the funding allocation, as it represents 10 per cent of what is needed to bridge the £662m shortfall in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: ‘The early years sector has been holding its breath, waiting desperately for some reprieve from years of government underfunding. While any extra money is welcome, the £66 million announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for early education will not make even the smallest inroad into bridging the £662 million funding gap in the sector.
‘We are nearing a tipping point where parents will no longer be able to bear the increase in fees and optional extras that childcare providers are forced to charge to subsidise the funding shortfall. Many childcare providers have already reached that tipping point and have closed for good. On today’s news, expect more childcare price hikes and more closures.’
Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), commented: ‘With so many providers struggling with the low fees government pays them to deliver ‘free’ early education places, the Chancellor’s announcement today of an additional £66m from next year is a start.
'However, the sector needs more, it is crying out for a long-term investment strategy that ensures providers can deliver the high-quality places children and families deserve without risking their childcare businesses’ future sustainability.
‘This £66 million, alongside the additional £700 million for high need children and young people in the school settlement will help, however, PACEY’s focus remains on working with DfE and Treasury to ensure this acknowledgement that funding is too low is developed into sustained and full investment in the government’s early education strategy. Only then will we start to see the disadvantage too many children still experience begin to reduce.’