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20,000 parents still haven’t secured a 30-hours place

By Rachel Lawler

The Department for Education (DfE) has released statistics on the first full term since the introduction of the 30-hours offer. The figures reveal that 20,000 parents who were issued with an eligibility code did not secure a place at a setting.
According to the DfE 224,885 eligibility codes were issued to parents for the autumn term and 202,783 children were said to be using a 30-hours place. This means that more than 20,000 eligible families are not accessing the offer.
Regional differences
The statistics also revealed that in 66 out of 152 local authorities, the proportion of children taking up 30 hours places who had been issued with eligibility codes was lower than the national average.
In 12 local authorities, less than three quarters of children who had been issued a 30-hours code had taken up their place at a setting.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said that the numbers of families missing out on a 30 hours place and the disparity between different local authorities was a “real cause for concern”.
Neil said: “It cannot be right that parents in certain areas of the country are facing such a struggle to access places, as these figures suggest. Given that the autumn term is always the quietest for childcare providers, the pressure on places is only going to get worse, and so many parents looking forward to accessing the scheme next term may well be left disappointed next year.”
Funding issues
Neil also noted that the figures do not reveal how many families are able to access the childcare offer completely free, without having to pay additional charges.
Neil said: “The government knows full well that inadequate sector funding has forced many childcare providers to rely on additional fees and charges to stay afloat and yet it continues to promote this offer as free, ignoring the fact that it is parents and providers who are having to fill this funding gap.”
Currently, the government plans to freeze early years funding rates until 2020, despite increasing cost pressures from the rising national minimum wage and other business costs.
Fair Future Funding
The Alliance is running the Fair Future Funding campaign, calling on the government to ensure that early years funding meets the rising costs of providing “free entitlement” places.
Join the campaign here.