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Alliance "disappointed" in government's response to early years report

By Rachel Lawler
 
children smiling
The Alliance has expressed its disappointment with the government’s response to the Education Select Committee’s report on early years education in England.
 
The select committee’s report, released in February this year, said that the 30 hours policy was putting financial pressure on early years settings and impacting the availability of childcare places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.
 
Government response
The government has disputed many of the claims in the report, stating: “We are supporting as many families as possible with access to high quality, affordable childcare.” The government also cited the fact that 70% of eligible two-year-olds currently take up the 15 hours offer.
 
The committee’s report, however, said that it had been told that the 30-hours policy is a “car crash”. It said: “The government should reduce the earnings cap for 30-hours childcare and use the extra funding to provide early education for disadvantaged children.”
 
The report also called on the government to develop a workforce strategy for the early years “at the earliest opportunity” and called for research into interventions designed to support parents, to avoid wasting money on ineffective programmes.
 
Record spend
The government’s response said: “The government plans to spend £3.5 billion on the entitlements this year alone – more than any other government.”
 
Disadvantage gap
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “I am disappointed that the Education Select Committee appears to have fared no better than the early years sector in getting the answer from government we all know we need to hear if we are to close the disadvantage gap.
 
“The answer is to make sure government pays providers adequately for the funded entitlements, because if funding remains frozen until 2020 as planned, their social mobility ambitions will not be met.
 
“Parents will continue to see their fees go up, charges for additional extras will increase, ‘free’ hours will be restricted to certain times and, to stay afloat, providers will have no choice but to prioritise parents who can pay.
 
Concerning trends
“If current trends continue we will see more providers close their doors for good because they can’t afford to stay open – and deprived areas will suffer the most.
 
“Government knows this but continues to rely on the goodwill of the sector to do their best for some of the most disadvantaged children. This needs to change.”
 
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