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Spring Statement fails to address early years funding concerns

By Rachel Lawler
 
Philip Hammond
Chancellor Philip Hammond failed to mention early years funding in his Spring Statement, delivered today in the House of Commons.
 
Early years funding rates for the government’s childcare policies are currently frozen until 2020, putting pressure on providers, many of whom say they are struggling to remain open.
 
Independent sector experts Ceeda estimated that there is currently a £615 million funding shortfall in funding for the early years sector – and this is likely to increase as the minimum wages and pension contributions rise next month.
 
Spending Review
However, the chancellor confirmed that the government will hold a Spending Review later this year. This is due to set departmental budgets for the next three years and is due to start before parliament breaks for summer recess this year.
 
Rising costs
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “Many providers will be incredibly disappointed that the Chancellor has yet again missed an opportunity to tackle the early years funding crisis, especially those wondering how they will survive past April’s minimum wage and pension increases.
 
“While ministers continue to claim that all is fine in the sector, the simple fact is that even the government’s own research – which doesn’t take into account these upcoming cost increases – shows that a large proportion of parents are paying increasing fees as a result of underfunding, while many local authorities have warned that current funding levels are unsustainable.
 
"It beggars belief that the government is walking a sector as vital as the early years to this cliff edge - but that’s what is happening with their refusal to budge on frozen funding levels even as outgoings soar.
 
“With report after report of quality providers being forced to close their doors for good, it’s vital that the government takes urgent action on this issue – the sector cannot afford any further delay."
 
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