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Financial Sustainability report


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Yesterday Helen and I went to London for the publication of the APPG report into the financial sustainability of the Early Years PVI sector. The Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP, attended the meeting to hear the recommendations from the year of research carried out by the APPG (of which, the FSF are co-sponsors). The report highlights the very challenging circumstances in which we find ourselves and sets out some positive recommendations that we hope the Minister will bear in mind when representing the sector to the Chancellor prior to the next Comprehensive Spending Review. We are all very well aware of the frustrations and irritation felt by the sector and there is a shared understanding that the finding rate for the 30 hours scheme is much too low and does not enable settings to employ the high quality staff they would like to. We all understand that there is a desperate shortage of qualified staff 'coming through the ranks'. We know too that the increased outgoings (business rates, pensions, nations minimum wage etc) are crippling many settings with an ever increasing list of closures. However, the report succinctly brings these points together in a well-reasoned, evidence backed presentation which made the necessary points firmly, but constructively. The meeting was well attended by Labour MPs and Lords, there was a noticeable absence of Conservative Party members (other than the Minister, of course!). The publication received plenty of press coverage some of which you might like to read:

From BBC news: Childcare might become 'available only in rich areas'

Early Years Alliance: Government risks childcare “becoming affordable only to the wealthy”

The recommendations of the report were as follows:

  1. The Treasury and the Department for Education must address the funding gap that has  developed as a result of Government policies, and has been exacerbated by the 30-hours funded childcare policy for three and four year old children.
  2. The Government must commit to a cross-department annual review of early years costs and funding rates, with a view to increasing funding levels as necessary to ensure they cover provider delivery costs.
  3. The Treasury must deliver full business rates relief to providers
  4. Providers must be supported to ease recruitment and retention challenges.
  5. Reporting requirements must be made more consistent and less of a burden.
  6. Prioritise closing the funding gap in deprived areas.
  7. Universal Credit should allow payments direct from the Department for Work and Pensions to providers.
  8. The Government should establish an independent early years commission
  9. Parliamentarians should lead a campaign to champion the work of childcare practitioners.

The full report is very easy to read and is well worth a cup of tea of your time :) If you read it, you will see that a significant quote in the report is from a forum thread addressing recruitment and retention of staff. Here at FSF we are very proud of our involvement and we are now looking to see if the Government will take on board any of the recommendations we have put forward with our APPG colleagues.

We'd be delighted to hear your comments! If you would like assistance to contact / liaise with your MP please do let us know, we can help you!

Steps to sustainability: a report by the APPG for Childcare and Early Education [This report was researched by Connect and funded by CACHE, Foundation Stage Forum, National Day Nurseries Association, Early Years Alliance, and Tops Day Nurseries. This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in this report are those of the Group.]

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It does annoy me that so much emphasis is put on the 30hrs extended, the first 15hrs are underfunded too! I can see a two tier rate being introduced eventually (up to 15 and above 15) to encourage providers to stick with offering 30hrs. I think it was point 6 that talks about making deprived areas sustainable, we had a postcode lottery when 3/4 yr old funding was first introduced and a small hamlet with pricey properties were some of our first chn to get the funding as they happened to be in a so called deprived chosen postcode area :-( 

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Yes. Mouseketeer, this was highlighted during our evidence gathering and research sessions in Westminster. It seems that not only are the 15 hours underfunded but spaces are in short supply as one of the effects of the 30 hours is 'fewer children, more often' so the fears we had at the beginning, that one child one high earning parents (who fulfill the eligibility criteria (up to 200K for a working couple)) was taking the space of two children who wanted to access 15 hours 'free'. There's not a lot of sense in much of it - but it is what it is, and we have to steer a course through unfortunately! The issue of additional funding for SEND children who needed particular support in settings who want to access the 30 hours is also a real hot potato. All we can do is highlight our concerns and provide the evidence ... 

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I shared my thoughts at the beginning of 30hrs with my EY advisor about where the funded 2’s would get in if we can fill our places up with 3/4yr olds, there seemed little comprehension that less child for more hours would be beneficial to settings in terms of less key children = less paperwork, 8 x 3/4yr olds = £32 (approx) for 1 staff wage, 4 x 2yr olds = £22 (approx) for 1 staff wage .....it wasn’t rocket science was it?

I can see it has greatly helped those who were already working a significant amount of hours but I personally feel the biggest mistake was giving all a blanket 30hrs, our experience is most of our families who are eligible only 1 parent works full time and one does the minimum hours at the rate needed to get it with no intention of increasing, and that money could have been much better spent, i’ve had one child on 2yr funding (1 parent not working) go straight to 30hr funding (because parent picked up a few hours well paid evening work a week) and has openly said as soon as the child goes to school they will give up the job again.

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  • 2 months later...

As a childminder, I've decided that this will be my last year of picking up children from school nursery and it's got naught to do with funding.  The effect on the younger children is just not worth it.   Yesterday was the last day we could go out all morning without rushing back to pick up at 11.45.  The best parks, the best museums, the best activity groups, the best time in the garden, full days out to the airport, to see level crossings, take the ferry, shouldn't be rushed.  Parents need to choose what they want for their children, and there is a good number of them who are happy for them to be behind a fence all day, and they should take up full-day places  - either school or day nurseries, and there are plenty of childminders also staying home all day, but not me.  

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