A new survey from the National Day Nurseries Association out today, reveals that only 45% of nurseries, say they are likely to offer 30 hours free childcare. This comes at a time when the Childcare Bill will imminently become an Act of Parliament.
The annual research points to nurseries actually making, on average, an annual loss of £34,000 by offering the current 15 hours of free education entitlement. The funding shortfall - between what nurseries are paid versus what places cost – is said to be at its highest and equates to an average of £1.68 per hour per 3-and 4-year old. 89% of nurseries said they made a loss on the free hours.
While the survey highlights that nurseries will struggle to deliver the 30 hours, PACEY believes that registered childminding will play a vital part in government plans to double the free early education to 30 hours. Childminders provide a unique form of highly flexible, home-based care which will be essential to the successful delivery of the extended entitlement.
Liz Bayram, PACEY’s Chief Executive said:
“We see childminders as key to supporting the expansion of places needed for the extended entitlement as currently the vast majority do not deliver it.
“The Government needs to address the financial and non-financial barriers that prevent many childminders from delivering the current Free Education Entitlement (FEE) if it wishes to incentivise them to deliver 30 hours. The primary barrier to providing the FEE for all providers is the low hourly rate. This is coupled with delayed payments, excessive paperwork, red tape and administrative errors. The Government has acknowledged a funding shortfall and committed to increasing the funding rates, but even just delivering 15 hours our members tell us payments can be delayed for up to 12 weeks - as a small business operating on tight margins that time lag is a real issue.
“Moreover, to make the most of this substantial public investment, and leave a lasting legacy on the quality of early education and care for young children in England, it must be accompanied by a commitment to work with the sector to ensure the sustainability of a workforce. Reward and recognition for childcare professionals is vital.”