Childcare providers require an increase in the hourly rate to deliver 30 hours sustainably
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The introduction of 30 hours ‘free’ child care is currently underfunded. For a number of years providers have received a low rate to deliver 15 hours.
Whilst most providers welcome the scheme to double the free childcare to 30 hours per week for three and four-year-olds of eligible working parents, we know that it will be unsustainable.
We have re-examined the way we operate our settings, we have reviewed business plans and gained feedback from parents. We have been offered less per hour than is sustainable to deliver the service to parents. The Government promised fair and transparent funding to enable us to deliver free places sustainably. This is not the reality, the Government have set minimum £4 an hour for providers and this is too low.
We have not seen an increase for 10 years, this has meant fee paying parents have paid more to cover Free Entitlement losses. With free hours set to double for eligible families there will be less parents paying fees direct to a provider.
In addition, LA's are releasing slow/delayed payments which when combined with a less than sustainable hourly rate, mean the scheme requires urgent attention if it is to succeed.
We need an urgent review by the next Government to examine sustainability issues:
- guarantee providers receive a minimum hourly rate of £4.75 an hour;
- Protect every penny given and ring fence early years funding;
- To support fairness & equality LAs must use a Single Funding Formula for all provider types from September 2017;
- To support Cashflow, LAs must sign up to the Prompt Payment Code to ensure a monthly payment system is in place by September 2017.
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