The Early Years Alliance has responded to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s call for councils to have better oversight of the charging practices of childcare providers.
Commenting, Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said:
“While we fully support the principle of 'free' childcare and early education, and recognise the valuable role that it plays in supporting families across the country, the fact is that this policy has been severely underfunded for several years now, and this is putting many early years providers in an impossible position.
"Parents rightly do not expect to pay for something they have been told is free, but equally, it cannot be right that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are expected to deliver these places at an often substantial loss, simply because government refuses to fund its flagship childcare policy adequately.
"If government is truly committed to ensuring that parents can access genuinely free early years places, then it needs to invest what is needed into the sector. With the additional financial impact of Covid on providers, this is more vital, and more urgent, than ever."