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Agencies debate in Lords

The Children and Families Bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords. The debate will also include proposals around childminding agencies. Some members of the House of Lords have recently expressed their concerns around the current proposals for childminding agencies, and plan to oppose certain clauses.

PACEY's Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, said “PACEY is glad to see the legislation about childminder agencies being carefully debated by the House of Lords today as part of the Children and Families Bill. We are working with our colleagues at NCB to brief interested Lords on our concerns around childminder agenices and other aspects of the proposed legislation relating to Childcare.

We believe there isn’t enough evidence that agencies will achieve their stated goals of reducing costs for families and improving quality of care for children. Additionally it remains unclear how the cost of delivering additional support to childminders who choose to join an agency will be covered, by parents or childminders. Pilots are only just starting and legislation should at least wait until they have demonstrated the model is delivering.

But our biggest concern remains the removal of individual regulation and inspection of childminders from Ofsted. Our members have clearly and consistently told us that they want to maintain individual registration with Ofsted. So we welcome the proposed Lords amendments, which will require childminders to continue to have individual inspection. however it remains the case that the proposed registration and inspection framework for agencies leaves PACEY concerned about how both quality and safeguarding will be maintained. The agency pilots must test this thoroughly, as well as the business model.

We know local authority support to help childminders improve is reducing but agencies are not the solution. Most childminders want to maintain their autonomy.

PACEY also supports the opposition by Baroness Walmsley, Baroness Tyler, Baroness Hughes and Baroness Jones to the proposed clause 76 which would revoke the duty of local authorities to assess the sufficiency of childcare provision in their areas. We work closely with a number of local authorities and have seen firsthand how they play a vital role in supporting a vibrant and sustainable childcare sector.”   

The debate, which began at 15.45 on Wednesday 9 October was adjourned to Monday 14 October at 3.30 before agencies were discussed. You can watch the committee session here or on the Parliament TV website.