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Early years sector needs funding increase to sustain wage rises

By Rachel Lawler
Boy playing low pay childcare
The early years sector cannot afford another minimum wage increase without a substantial increase in funding, the Alliance warned today.
Presenting evidence to the Low Pay Commission, Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch explained that the average wage for nursery managers is £13.97, compared to £20.42 per hour for comparable professional occupations.
Neil shared evidence from early years expert CEEDA, which found that 77% of early years providers had found a vacancy hard to fill in 2018.
Early Years Teachers
The sector has also seen a decrease in the number of students enrolling on an Early Years Teacher course, dropping from 2,327 in 2013 to just 365 in 2018.
Funding freeze
Neil commented: “There is no doubt that dedicated early years professionals deserve better pay. But the government cannot on the one hand freeze funding for its flagship childcare schemes and with the other, enforce statutory pay rises on providers.
“It’s completely unsustainable.
“Giving evidence to the Low Pay Commission offers us another route to tell government decision-makers what they already know: that the sector will fall deeper into crisis if it has to bear another minimum wage increase without government stepping up urgently and plugging the £662 million shortfall in early years funding.”
Recruitment concerns
Dr Jo Verrill, managing director at CEEDA, added: “The shortfall in government investment is increasingly impacting on the sector’s ability to recruit, retain and develop staff in a tight labour market where employment rates are at record levels.”
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