Laura Sharman 15 June 2021

Ministers 'knew early years was underfunded' argues charity

Ministers knew early years was underfunded argues charity image

The Government has been accused of knowingly under-funding local authorities on 'free childcare' places by the Early Years Alliance.

The educational charity said that data obtained through freedom of information requests shows that the Government only paid local authorities two-thirds of what it estimated they would need to fully fund the scheme.

The data shows civil servants estimated the cost of a government-funded early years place for three- and four-year-olds would cost an average of £7.49 per hour by 2020/21. However, the average rate paid to local authorities is just £4.89.

The Early Years Spending Review Scenarios document obtained from the Department for Education also shows that ministers were aware that under-investment would lead to increased prices for families, with providers forced to use maximum statutory adult-to-child ratios.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: 'For years, the early years sector has warned that the so-called ‘free entitlement’ offer is anything but free, in the face of repeated government claims that the policy is adequately funded. These documents, which they spent more than two years trying to hide, prove otherwise.'

'For so long, the government has tried to deflect the blame for rising childcare costs. But these documents prove, in black and white, that it knew that the introduction of the 30-hours policy, along with an insufficient level of investment, would result in higher costs for parents of younger children.'

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 'Through our early years funding formula, which we introduced after consultation with the sector, councils must pass on the vast majority of the funding they receive for the three and four-year-old entitlements.

'The number of childcare places available for parents in England has remained broadly stable since 2015, and we are not aware of any significant issues for parents in accessing free places – we work closely with councils to ensure this remains the case.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Early Interventions

Essex County Council
£32065 - £43839 per annum
Social Worker - Early Interventions Permanent, Full Time £32,065 - £43,839 per annum Location
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Social Worker - Local Linked Support Team

Essex County Council
£32065 - £43839 per annum
This is a full time fixed term contract for 12 month or a 12 month Secondment.About the RoleThis is a community-based role within the Harlow area. You England, Essex, Epping
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Property and Projects Lawyer

Brent Council
£43,860 - £49,827 p.a. inc.(pro rata)
The successful candidate will have the opportunity to supervise junior staff and deputise in the absence of the Senior Property Lawyer. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Business Support Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£29,359
We have recently changed the way that we work so that we are more responsive to... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Accountancy and Business Change Manager

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£49.827 - £52.866
An opportunity has arisen within our Accountancy Business Partnership Service for an Accountancy Business Change Manager. Reporting Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue