York nurseries' withdrawal from 30 free hours scheme is early warning for Government, says NDNA

Today, over 30 childcare providers in York said 'no' to the Government's offered rate for the Early Implementers' Pilot in York.

At £3.95 per hour for the second 15 hours of funding for working parents, the rate would mean a loss for providers, says nursery owners and managers in the city.

Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), Purnima Tanuku OBE, said: “It is disappointing but entirely understandable that nurseries won’t commit to the pilot because they aren’t getting paid a fair rate for their business to continue as a going concern.

“We warned the Government that childcare providers might find themselves having to make this decision. When the Government announced a £300 million uplift in funding, this averaged out at an hourly rate of £4.88 to local authorities. Early years funding has stagnated in recent years with hourly rates reducing in real terms. If the starting point for 30 funded hours is too low there is no hope these pilots will succeed.

“But we don’t want a situation where parents cannot benefit from the additional free hours because the funding rate is too low for providers to offer it.

“This pilot was set up to be able to test how the delivery of 30 funded hours would work in practice, but with so many providers prevented from taking part, it won’t give a true reflection of how an authority-wide scheme will work across all settings.

“We are sure that parents will appreciate that quality learning and care does not come cheaply and that providers cannot subsidise free hours offer any further.

“We are hopeful that a workable solution can be found before the pilot is due to start in September. It is an early warning signal that the Government must take this seriously and address the issues before the pilot starts.”

Ken McArthur, owner of Polly Anna's, Haxby and NDNA York network chair, said: "They want me to take less money per hour than I'm getting now. That is unworkable."

Beverley Foers from Daisy Chain nursery, Heworth, said: "At this rate, They're stopping us from implementing this pilot and helping our parents."

Helen Gration, owner of York Montessori Nursery, asked: "Surely a child is worth more than this in an experiment that will go country wide in 2017?"

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