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Alliance raises concerns over 30-hours capital funding process

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has raised concerns over the 30-hours capital funding process, following the results of its latest Twitter poll which revealed that 39% of respondents were unaware of the bidding process.
Local authorities that submitted an “expression of interest” to receive capital funding for the delivery of the 30-hours offer back in April, now have until 31 August to submit a bid in partnership with local providers.
However, many early years providers are concerned about the short timescale for applications and the lack of information available, with only 14% of respondents saying they were planning on being part of a submission. 37% are not planning on taking part and a further 10% were still undecided.
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Alliance, said that it was incredibly disappointing that so many providers are seemingly unaware of the bidding process and have received little to no information on it.
“We have seen evidence of several instances of local authorities only alerting local providers to the bid process as recently as this week, which is of little benefit to those settings who are now closed for the summer,” Neil said.
“In light of this, we urge the Department for Education to extend the current deadline of 31 August to ensure that as many providers as possible have a fair opportunity to apply for capital funding.”
Neil also called for the DfE to ensure school provision is not prioritised over PVI provision when capital funding is allocated.
“Since the £50m in capital funding for the 30 hours was announced, the government has repeatedly emphasised the specific need to build capacity in the maintained sector, and so many providers are understandably concerned that school-based provision may be unfairly prioritised over the PVI sector,” Neil said.
“Only last month, a representative from the DfE suggested to the Public Accounts Committee that many PVI providers ‘can raise their own capital’ – but how is this possible when funding rates have yet to be confirmed and providers cannot plan for next year?”
Neil added that given that PVI providers deliver a large percentage of free entitlement places, failure, on the government’s behalf, to ensure sufficient support for building capacity in the sector could have a hugely detrimental impact on the availability of the 30-hours places.