Government will not be launching an independent review of childcare funding
By Rachel Lawler
The government has stated that it “will not be launching an independent review of childcare at this time” in response to the Petitions Committee report on the impact of the pandemic on new parents.
In response to the report’s requests, the government has said that it had “collectively concluded that a formal review is not needed” and outlined a number of ways in which it is already supporting parents and young children.
"No new commitments"
The Petitions Committee has said that is “disappointed” by the government’s response, which it criticised as containing “no new commitments” in response to the concerns it raised.
"Disappointed but not surprised"
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Alliance, commented: "We are disappointed, though sadly not surprised, that the government has dismissed the Petitions Committee’s call for an independent review into early years funding and affordability.
"Years of government underfunding have left nurseries, pre-schools and childminding settings struggling to remain financially sustainable, with many forced to increase fees and additional charges to stay afloat. None of this is news to government: its own policy documents – only published after a two-year Freedom of Information battle with the Alliance – reveal that funding levels are a fraction of what the government knows they need to be to cover provider costs.
"As highlighted by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, even with the increase in early years funding rates set to come into effect in April, early entitlement funding will still only see a real-terms increase of 3p an hour next year, and by 2023-24, is on track reach its lowest real terms level yet. In simple terms, this will mean higher childcare prices for parents already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis, and more and more settings being forced to close their doors for good.
"And while the government continues to argue that the number of early years places available across the country has remained broadly stable over recent years, the fact remains that there are huge regional disparities, with some areas seeing as much as a 25% fall in places over the past six years.
"If the government is truly committed to supporting children and families to access quality, affordable care and early education, it will invest what’s needed to ensure that our vital sector is able to deliver it. Anything less is simply a recipe for disaster."