Nurseries fear funding shortfall

 

Nurseries fear they will not receive the necessary funding to
cope with a flagship Government plan to extend free childcare to
two-year-olds.

The majority of nurseries and pre-schools in England believe they will face a shortfall when the policy begins across the country next year.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday announced 10 areas where the scheme will be trialled in September, claiming the Government was "revolutionising" childcare.

It is intended that 150,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds will receive up to 15 hours a week of free pre-school education from September 2013, rising to 260,000 in 2014.

But the Pre-School Learning Alliance said just one in eight institutions believed they would get the necessary cash.

The survey of more than 1,000 day nurseries and pre-schools across England was carried out earlier this month by the alliance and found that only 13% believe their costs will be covered under the free early years entitlement scheme.

Some 59% believe their costs will not be covered by the scheme and 28% were not certain they would be fully compensated.

The survey found 96% of nurseries and pre-schools believe that catering for the additional needs of some of the disadvantaged children either will or may cost more than they anticipate receiving from their local authority.

Almost two-thirds, 62%, said that at present they were not receiving enough money to cover costs under the existing free entitlement for three- and four-year-olds.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: "We are not exactly surprised by these findings. The childcare and early years sector is committed to giving young children the best start possible.

"But it is getting increasingly difficult for many day nurseries and pre-schools to be able to afford to provide the 15 hours a week of free provision as they are losing so much money on the scheme.

"One respondent to our survey said that Government funding leaves it with a £3 deficit per hour for every funded child, while another said its hourly rate for parents is £5 per child but it receives only £2.98 per hour from its local authority to cover the free entitlement costs.

"A pre-school told us the free entitlement 'barely' covers its costs and it only survives because it undertakes extensive fundraising and its staff do 'a lot of unpaid overtime'."

He said a National Audit Office report, published in February, said the free entitlement scheme for three- and four-year olds, introduced under the Labour government, had "never been properly costed or funded" and one in 10 local authorities stated the money covered the cost of only "a few or none of their (childcare) providers".

He added: "This is a concerning state of affairs as we enter a new phase of delivering even more places to disadvantaged two-year-olds.

"Though 83% of settings said that they would get involved in the extension of the free entitlement scheme when it is introduced next year, only one-in-five is prepared to invest to increase capacity for more children.

"The data reinforces earlier anecdotal evidence that providers would fill existing places but would not invest in creating new ones."

He said that if all the funding for the two-year-olds was passed to providers and there was a 95% take-up rate for the places the average hourly rate of the free entitlement will be about £5.40.

But he warned: "The sector is concerned that - as these children will be coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and will require specialist help from well-trained early years staff - funding will fall short and as one provider put it this will be 'more of the same old, same old'.

"The early years and childcare sector supports this worthwhile initiative. But the Government must ensure that day nurseries and pre-schools are fully reimbursed for the free entitlement."

A spokesman at the Department for Education said: "The Government is spending more money than ever before on free early education.

"Funding for the free entitlement for two-year-olds will rise to £760 million in 2014-15. From next year funding will be included in the ring-fenced education grant which will provide greater certainty about the money available, and more than four-fifths of providers have said they are keen to get involved in delivering this service.

"There is no single national hourly rate; it is right that funding is allocated to local authorities which determine appropriate funding rates based on the costs of provision locally.

"Local authorities must work with early education providers to establish the true cost of places and make sure that funding is fair and transparent. The new entitlement for two-year-olds is a great opportunity for early years providers to expand their businesses and provide quality experiences for even more children."

PA

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week