Schools Forum backs Labour’s childcare help plea

Labour’s Children’s Services spokesperson, Cllr Helen Armitage, has cautiously welcomed the news that the Early Years funding allocation from Suffolk County Council is set to rise and that changes to deprivation and special needs funding are to be introduced.

The Schools Forum committee (11th January 2018) will recommend to the County Council that funding for children in the Early Years setting should be increased to £4.00 and that Special Education Needs should be paid to providers on a needs basis rather than as 4p per hour per child no matter what their need. Changes to deprivation payments mean that these will now be targeted at those that need them.

In October 2017 Labour councillors proposed a motion to the County Council calling on the Conservative administration to increase funding for nurseries and other childcare settings in order to ensure that the government policy of 30 hours childcare provision for 3-4-year-olds could be met. The motion was voted down by Conservatives on the County Council despite the obvious need for the council to provide more funding to ensure that nurseries across the county could continue to run.

Working with the Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding campaign group which supports Early Years providers, Labour councillors have continued to press the council to do what it can to support the Early Years sector resulting in this Conservative U-turn.

Donna Row from Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding said: “The increased funding won’t be enough, but we do welcome it.

“Last September, the government rolled out the 30-free hours of childcare for all eligible parents. What the government forgot to tell parents was that, while they were banding around the word free, they are not giving the providers the amount it costs to deliver that free place. For example, in Suffolk, it costs on average £5.20 per hour, per child, but providers in Suffolk were given £3.87, leaving us with a horrendous shortfall.

“A lot of providers have closed nationally – probably double figures in Suffolk – as they are unsustainable. They are not allowed to charge parents for the shortfall. They are worried about the future: heating and food costs are going up, pension contributions will have to be made from next year, the living wage and business rates are going up.”

Cllr Armitage said; “I was rather surprised to see the increase in hourly payments, and the changes to SEN and deprivation payments recommended by the Schools Forum papers. During the motion debate in September the Tories told us in no uncertain terms that our request for more money was reckless and baseless.

“I am obviously pleased that the changes have been made, but it really is not enough. The council have done what they can, which we welcome, but a radical review of Early Years Funding by central government is still needed in order to provide top quality early years provision for all Suffolk’s children.”

 

ENDS

Papers for the Schools Forum meeting can be found at

https://www.suffolklearning.co.uk/leadership-staff-development/schools-accountancy/schools-forum/schools-forum-meetings-2018/2018-01-11-meeting-papers

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