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30 hours - one year on

Almost a year since the full roll out of the Government’s flagship 30 hours early education policy, new research from PACEY’s latest Building Blocks survey highlights how childcare providers are coping with the scheme. Most providers (64%) think the hourly rate paid by their local authority is too low. Over 40% of those delivering 30 hours said that offering it has reduced their income in the last year.

Key findings include:

  • Fifty-nine per cent of childminders and 88 per cent of group-based practitioners reported they are currently delivering funded places of some kind
  • The most common reasons childminders cited for not offering funded places of up to 30 hours were that the hourly rate is not enough (43 per cent), followed by too much paperwork and red tape (31 per cent)
  • When asked what factors would incentivise them to offer 30 hour places in the future, a majority of childminders (56 per cent) chose a higher hourly rate, followed by less paper/red tape (40 per cent), and an improved payment system (38 per cent)
  • 41 per cent of childminders and 46 per cent of group-based practitioners said they had experienced a decrease in their profits directly due to 30 hours
  • There is very little evidence that 30 hours is making it easier for providers to fill vacancies, as only 14 per cent of providers agreed that this was the case
  • Nearly half of childminders (44 per cent) do not think it will be sustainable to offer 30 hours in the long term, and around a third plan to limit the number of funded places they offer in the future.

PACEY Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, said: “We already know many childminders, nurseries and pre-schools are struggling to make ends meet whilst offering 30 hours for the families they support, but our latest Building Blocks research is a stark reminder of how many are actually losing money. This is money that they would have spent on training and developing their staff; providing additional resources; or simply providing pay rises to help retain talented staff. As business costs continue to rise and profits fall, the sustainability of many of these setting has to be called into question. The Government has said it will look at funding levels for 2020 onwards as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, but that is two years off and action is badly needed now.”

 “Building Blocks does show many more providers, especially registered childminders are offering 30 hours, and that the majority (80%) are doing so in partnership with another provider. However the question remains how sustainable is this in the long run and at what cost to the quality of provision they are offering?

“Our findings reinforce the need for the Government to act on the recommendations PACEY has been making over the past year. In particular. It must urgently increase funding levels and establish a formal annual review, so that funding keeps pace with inflation; pay providers on a monthly basis as soon as possible; and ensure local authorities streamline their paperwork and remove unnecessary demands for additional documents and training. Childminders should also be permitted to deliver funded places to children related by blood or marriage, as long as they are not living at the same address.

“A year is a long time for a small business to struggle in the ways so many Building Block respondents have described to us.  Action is needed now to ensure we don’t lose more childminders, pre-schools and nurseries. Without them, children and families will not benefit from 30 hours or any other government-subsidised childcare.”

Holly Clarke, Communications Officer
T: 020 8290 2537

Susanna Kalitowski, Policy and Research Manager
T: 020 8290 2417