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Early years funding crisis "hits poorest children"

By Rachel Lawler
 
early years funding action week
Childcare providers based in areas of deprivation are twice as likely to close as those in the most affluent areas, according to new research from independent agency Ceeda.
 
Ceeda surveyed 356 private, voluntary and independent childcare settings about the cost of delivering quality childcare.
 
Potential closures
Almost one in five (17%) providers (17%) in the most deprived areas of England anticipate that they will have to close within the next year, more than twice as many as in the least deprived areas (8%).
 
The research also found that the total shortfall in early years funding has risen by more than £50 million in the past year.
 
Providers also said that they were forced to make cost savings as a result of the shortfall, with 43% cutting back on learning resources and 19% saying they had to lower the quality of food given to children.
 
Action Week
The news comes shortly at the start of the Fair Future Funding Action Week – a cross-sector campaign aiming to ensure that every MP in England is made aware of the funding crisis.
 
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “This is what a sector in crisis looks like. Providers are straining to deliver quality childcare on funding levels set in 2015, leaving them forced to choose between reducing quality and charging ever higher fees or closing their doors.
 
“There’s only one conclusion to draw from this: the government can no longer afford to underfund the early years.
 
“It must invest properly in its flagship childcare scheme and review the funding annually to make sure it stays in line with rising costs.”
 
Financial pressures
Dr Jo Verrill, managing director at Ceeda, said: “While a logical response to financial pressure, these actions have consequences, particularly for those families least able to pay for early education.”
 
Tracy Brabin, shadow minister for the early years, said: “Labour has warned for years that the impact of underfunding childcare and early years policies would be felt most keenly by disadvantaged families, and this report unfortunately shows we were right.
 
“If the Government wants to be taken seriously on social mobility, they must make sure that all children and families have access to high-quality early years education and experienced practitioners. But their policies and funding cuts are hurting providers in the poorest areas the hardest.”
 
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