Alliance responds to Social Mobility Commission report
The wide-ranging report looks at, amongst other things, the early years. It found persistent gaps in attainment between disadvantaged children and their peers. One of the Commission's recommendations related to 30 hours funded childcare. It recommended: "extend[ing] the eligibility of the 30-hours offer by lowering the lower income limit of eligibility to those earning the equivalent of eight hours per week, as a first step to making it available to more parents." And the introduction of "a national marketing campaign to promote the revised 30-hour child care offer, working with local authorities to specifically target low-income households."
A copy of the press release and report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/class-privilege-remains-entrenched-as-social-mobility-stagnates.
Responding to the report’s recommendation to extend 30 hours to parents earning the equivalent of working 8 – rather than 16 – hours of minimum wage a week, Neil said:
“It’s interesting to note that the Commission recommends extending the entitlement on 30 hours to parents on lower incomes. This is an excellent idea in principle because it’s clear that the current policy benefits well-off families more than those from poorer backgrounds. In fact, we’ve always said a truly progressive policy would extend the entitlement to parents in training or education.
“However, the determining factor in who can and can’t access funded childcare is not so much the eligibility criteria as it is the invisible barriers created by the government’s underfunding of the policy. Funding levels were set low and have remained frozen for several years, leaving providers little choice but to ask parents to pick up the shortfall in voluntary charges and higher fees for non-funded hours. It’s clear what the impact this will have on those families who need their childcare to be ‘free’ – they’ll struggle to access places. It’s hard to see how the Commission’s recommendation of a national marketing campaign for funded hours can change that.
“The best way to ensure children from low income backgrounds have access to high quality childcare is to ensure that that provision is properly funded. Until that happens we’ll continue to see settings in deprived areas close and the attainment gap remain stubbornly wide.”
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 member settings 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.
The Alliance website is www.eyalliance.org.uk