Early years are speaking out about the cost of free childcare

The Department for Education is calling on providers in the early years sector to provide them with information regarding how much "free childcare" costs them. They are also looking into any studies and research that have been carried out into childcare costs. This to try and get a better understand of the financial situation of the sector; hopefully this means a better understanding of the funding that is needed and going to be delivered.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘We warmly welcome the call for evidence on early years funding, which will give providers a much-needed opportunity to share their views and experiences with Government. Having previously dismissed its findings, we also hope that the Department for Education will also take this as an opportunity to take into account the independent report into the free entitlement offer commissioned by the Alliance last year, which found that the existing schemes are underfunded by around 20 per cent on average.

‘Looking ahead, we believe that it’s vital that this review is used to ensure that the early years sector is adequately funded in the long term. A one-off funding increase may make for positive headlines, but will do very little to address the serious problems around business sustainability currently facing providers. As such, we look forward to contributing to the review and ensuring that it is fair, open and comprehensive.’

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, 'It is excellent news that the Government has recognised calls from the sector to review the level of funding for delivering the early education  entitlement. PACEY met with the Childcare Minister yesterday to share our members’ concerns not only about the level of funding, but about  other barriers childminders can face in delivering the free entitlement. These include inflexible payment processes in some local authorities, the impact of delays in payment and the variety in rates between different authorities.

'We also spoke to Mr Gyimah about the need to look again at the issue of funding for related children – this is a barrier that does not exist for nurseries, and should be addressed for childminders, too.'

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