Alliance responds to reports of government plans to extend current 'free childcare' scheme

Responding to reports that the government is considering extending existing funded childcare schemes as part of its election manifesto planning, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

"While we of course recognise that the cost of childcare remains a significant financial challenge for many families across the country, it beggars belief that anyone in government could even consider extending the existing childcare offers without addressing the huge underfunding issues currently facing these schemes.

"Nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England are already facing a funding gap of £662m - and with the cost of delivering places on the rise as the result of increases in business costs like wages, rents and business rates, things are only going to get more difficult. 

"Extending the existing so-called 'free childcare' schemes - whether by offering funded places to a wider range of children, or increasing the number of hours being funded - without ensuring that early years providers are paid a fair rate to deliver places will place unbearable pressure on a sector that is already struggling to survive.

"Prioritising 'eye-catching' manifesto pledges over and above workable, sustainable and properly-costed polices is exactly what got us into the mess we're in today. The government simply must not make the same mistake twice."

ENDS

About the Alliance

  • The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country.
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 members and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.