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Half of parents paying increased fees after 30 hours offer

By Rachel Lawler
parents and child 30 hours funding
The 30 hours funded childcare offer has led to increased fees for nearly half of parents, according to a new survey by the Alliance and Mumsnet. The survey also revealed that four in 10 providers fear that they may have to close within the next year as a result of the scheme.
The survey received 1,662 responses from nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England. 42% of these providers said that there was a chance they could closed within the next academic year due to the 30 hours offer and underfunding.
Increased fees
48% of these providers said that they had increased their fees as a result of the 30 hours offer and 42% said they had introduced or increased charges for additional goods and services.
34% of providers said that they were planning to increase their fees in the next 12 months and 19% said the were planning to introduced additional charges.
A separate poll, conducted by Mumsnet on behalf of the Alliance, surveyed 1,143 parents of three- and four-year-old children. 
Parent concerns
The survey found that 45% of parents accessing the 30-hours offer had been asked to pay increased fees for non-funded hours since the introduction of the offer.
41% of parents said that they have been asked to pay additional charges for goods and services after taking up the offer and
30% of parents also said they have had difficulties when renewing their eligibility for the offer online.
The findings come just one year after the 30-hours scheme launched across England. Earlier this year, the Treasury Committee criticised the government for using “misleading” figures about funding when defending the scheme and called for funding rates to be increased in line with increasing delivery costs.
“Free childcare”?
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “The fact is that even those providers who are technically managing to make the 30 hours work are often only able to do so by introducing or increasing additional fees and charges. Is this what the government meant when they promised parents 30 hours of ‘free childcare’?
“And while better parents may be able to shoulder these unexpected costs in the short-term, those on the lower end of the income scale – the families that the government claims to be so committed to supporting – are the ones who are likely to suffer as a result.
“Worse still, things are only going to get more difficult, with early years funding levels frozen until 2020 despite the fact that provider business costs like wages, mortgages and rents will inevitably rise over this time.
“How many increasingly expensive ‘additional costs’ will providers be forced to introduce, how many providers will be forced to close their doors, before government admits there’s a problem? The inescapable fact is that, as these figures show, without urgent action, the 30 hours policy is simply not viable in the long term.”
Planning and funding
Justine Roberts, founder at Mumsnet, added: “The idea behind giving working parents 30 free hours of childcare is, in theory, a good one. Even part-time childcare can be higher than the average UK mortgage bill, and Mumsnet users tell us it's often a real barrier when it comes to getting back to work. But any scheme needs to be backed up by sufficient planning and funding and our users are telling us this simply isn't happening. 
“Given the benefits working parents bring to the economy it's not good enough that nearly half of recipients are having to pay additional fees for non-funded hours.”