Nursery owner challenges Prime Minister on childcare funding
By Rachel Lawler
The Prime Minister has promised an announcement about the Conservative Party’s childcare policy “soon”, in response to questions from a Nottingham-based nursery owner.
Boris Johnson was questioned by members of the public as part of a special episode of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Your Call. Presenter Rachel Burden hosted while members of the public contacted the show with their questions for the Prime Minister.
Roopam Carroll, owner and manager at Beeston Nursery in Nottinghamshire, contacted the show with a question about childcare funding.
“The problem I am having is that the funding I am being given by the government doesn’t actually cover my costs. So for every child that has been funded, I am making about 40p an hour loss,” Roopam explained.
She added that as her costs were going up, she was forced to charge parents extra. “It breaks my heart and makes it so hard for working families,” she said. She also warned that thousands of settings have already closed, and hers could be at risk too.
Good, affordable childcare
The Prime Minister thanked the manager for her work and said: “I think good, affordable childcare is the absolute holy grail. If we can get that right it is a massive benefit to the UK.”
Burden asked the Prime Minister whether he knew how much early years settings were currently paid per hour of funded childcare – and he was unable to answer.
Burden also cited recent research from Ceeda which found that 17% of childcare providers in the most deprived areas expect to close in the next 12 months.
Roopam added: “We’re really struggling and no-one is listening to us. Is your party listening to us?"
The Prime Minister said that his party was listening and promised an announcement “soon” on what childcare policies his party would propose.
"What we are going to do in the manifesto is say a lot more about what we are going to do to fund childcare and we are going to look at the age at which it is funded. I do understand the incredible difference that a company like yours, Roopam, can make to children,” Johnson said.
The research from Ceeda also found that 38% of childcare providers in deprived areas are operating at a loss. Even those based in more affluent areas areas are struggling, with 23% of these providers currently operating at a loss.
So far, both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to extend funded childcare offers to parents ahead of the general election. The Conservative Party is yet to share its plans on childcare and the early years.