Alliance comments on government response to early years funding consultation
Commenting on the government response to the consultation on early years funding, Neil Leitch, chief executive of Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:
"We warmly welcome the news of additional early years funding for the introduction of a minimum hourly funding rate, and are pleased that the government is listening to the Alliance's concerns on this issue. Many providers, especially those whose local authorities are among the least well-funded in the country, have voiced serious fears about their sustainability, and so today's news is likely to be welcomed by them.
"That said, while this is undoubtedly a positive step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have on providers' sustainability in the long term. Some areas that are seeing significant falls in funding will not actually be affected by today's announcement, and so it's clear that there is much more to be done to support providers in such areas. What's more, we are still in a situation where the early years funding rates that local councils will receive next year will remain stagnant until 2020, while business costs will continue to rise. This is not sustainable and must be addressed if the government is to ensure the sector can survive in the long term.
"As such, while increased funding is undoubtedly welcome, it is important not to confuse 'more money' with 'enough money'. For many providers, the difference between the cost of delivering 'free entitlement' places and the funding received from government remains significant, and unless this gap is closed - as opposed to narrowed - the problems facing the sector will remain.
"As such, the Alliance will continue to work with the Department for Education, and to push for the regular monitoring of rising delivery costs alongside regular increases in funding to cover these."
Commenting on the announced changes to funding supplements, Neil said:
"Given that the Alliance opposed the introduction of both efficiency and '30-hour' supplements in our response to the government consultation, we are very pleased that the government has acted on our concerns and abandoned these proposals. Funding should be used to support providers to improve and sustain the quality of their provision (rather than to try and persuade them to opt into government initiatives), and so we also welcome the news that the quality supplement has been retained, as we called for, alongside the introduction of a new EAL supplement.
"The changes announced today clearly show the importance and value of speaking out. For so long, we've been told: "There's simply no more money", and yet today, the government has acted on the concerns voiced by the Alliance and the wider sector.
"We are clear, however, that there is still much work to do if the sector, and in particular, the 30 hour offer, is to be sustainable in the long term, and so we at the Alliance will continue to speak out for our members, and the wider sector, on this vital issue."