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Extend early entitlement funding in line with furlough, Alliance says

By Rachel Lawlerearly years funding

The Alliance has called on the government to extend its commitment to give providers early entitlement funding, regardless of attendance figures, until at least spring 2021.

The commitment would bring the pledge in line with the government’s Job Retention Scheme which has been extended until March 2021.

The current funding rules for two-, three- and four-year-old childcare places are due to come to an end at the end of 2020.

The Alliance has already called on the government to provide the sector with a £240 million Early Years Sufficiency Fund in the upcoming Spending Review. This came after the results of a recent survey revealed that one in six early years providers could close by Christmas 2020 without additional funding.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “The measures announced by the Chancellor today, while undoubtedly welcome, are a clear acknowledgement by government of the long-term economic impact that the latest restrictions are likely to have.

"As the Chancellor clearly knows based on his actions today, businesses need certainty to plan for the future. It's critical, therefore, that that same certainty is given to early years providers who now face the prospect of reduced demand for several months as a result of changing work patterns and a sharp increase in the number of parents on furlough no longer requiring childcare.

"If the sector is to survive, it is essential that the government provides the support early years providers need to get through this difficult period. That means both a commitment to continuing to pay for funded childcare places that would normally have been taken up through to the end of the spring term, and urgent emergency funding to safeguard those settings most at risk of closure, especially providers heavily reliant on private parental income.

"This, alongside a review of the overall level of funding received by the sector, is absolutely vital if we are to ensure the continued availability of early years education and care for children and families across the country, both during the pandemic and beyond."