Labour councillors today proposed a motion to a meeting of Suffolk County Council calling on the administration to help beleaguered childcare providers. The motion was rejected by Conservative councillors, despite this being an election promise.
The motion called on the administration to lobby government to change the Early Years Funding Formula and provide more money for Childcare providers as they seek to provide 30 hours free childcare across the county, but Conservatives thought it better to vote against Labour rather than support the motion whose sole purpose was to help childcare providers.
Childcare providers have been telling Labour that they are struggling to make ends meet as they try to implement Conservative Party election promises of an extended 30 hours childcare provision. The amount of money that it costs providers to deliver the extra 30 hours is far greater than the amount of money given to providers via the Early Years Funding Formula.
Suffolk County Council receive £31,987,168 from central government of which they have to pass through 93% to the providers. This means the council are able to keep around £2.1m to cover the costs of support and other administrative tasks. It has come to light that as part of this money Suffolk County Council have offered business development advice which has included telling childcare providers to ‘do parents ironing’ and to put begging bowls in their reception areas. This is not the sort of advice that helps build a sustainable and secure small business.
Cllr Helen Armitage, Labour Spokesperson for Children’s Services who proposed the motion said; “We wholeheartedly support a policy that delivers 30 hours free childcare which is of high quality and does not penalise providers, but this is not that policy.
“Providers are at risk of going bankrupt because of the unfair funding formula and we need action now before provision across the county is at such a low level that it is not possible for all those parents that want and need high quality childcare to access it, especially in rural areas.
“It is a disgrace that this Conservative administration cannot bring itself to support a motion that helps childcare providers and deliver an election promise.”
Labours motion read
That this council welcomes the extension of state provision of childcare from 15 to 30 hours and will do everything it can to ensure that all parents, carers and providers who qualify can access this much-needed support, but notes
- that the level of funding provided by central government does not cover the full cost of provision and is likely to lead to a further reduction in the number of childcare providers
- that the reduction in the number of providers will lead to a decrease in the life chances of Suffolk’s children thereby increasing the costs of local authority intervention at primary school; and
- that because many providers are choosing not to deliver the free 30 hours many parents in Suffolk will be unable to access the support promised.
Therefore, this council will
- lobby government to change the Early Years National Funding Formula to make it fairer to providers and parents
- to pass the full hourly rate that this council currently receives from government to childcare providers
- ensure that all parents have access to the full 30 hours regardless of their location in Suffolk