Nurseries' funding for low-income families is cut in half

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At least five community nurseries in the London borough of Hackney are facing cuts of up to 50 per cent in their funding for places for families on low incomes.

Many of them provide a large number of places that are subsidised by the Learning Trust, which runs education in the borough. Nursery World has learned that the nurseries that appear to be affected are the ones offering a large proportion of their places for poor families.

One Hackney nursery manager, who did not wish to be named, said she received a letter last week confirming that from April, the nursery would be receiving the equivalent of a drop of more than 50 per cent in funding for places commissioned by the Learning Trust.

She said, 'We could close within a year. We're in a deprived area and the majority of our parents have subsidised childcare. We can't make any cuts to our staffing because we're at the minimum and the nursery education grant doesn't cover our costs. Previously the Learning Trust would subsidise us for 25 hours a week per child, now they're only going to subsidise us for 15 hours a week.'

The pressure group Friends of Hackney Nurseries has reformed to fight the threat to nurseries. One member, Gail Chester, said, 'We are outraged that under cover of the elections the Learning Trust is imposing huge cuts in the budgets of many nurseries. Not only are commissioning grants of up to £50,000 being cut, but nurseries that are dependent on other forms of funding are also suffering massive cutbacks.

'These cuts are being introduced with immediate effect with no consideration for parents or nurseries. We shall be campaigning vigorously to make sure public funding is available for affordable, good-quality childcare.'

In a statement the Learning Trust said, ‘The Learning Trust provides funding to community nurseries to enable them to offer subsidised childcare to families of children who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, or who have special educational needs.
There is an overall net increase in the funds available this financial year and an increase in the amount of funding per child (in recognition of the growing costs of high quality childcare).
We are providing funding to more nurseries and increasing the number of subsidised places for local families as part of a more equitable funding framework, which will benefit more children and families across Hackney.
Nurseries that currently receive funding and have demonstrated the required level of quality provision will continue to receive the same level of funding until September when a new funding framework will come into operation.’

  • Friends of Hackney Nurseries has invited all council and parliamentary candidates to a hustings meeting on 29 April at 6.30pm at The Old Firestation Nursery, 61 Leswin Road, N16 7NX and is holding a campaign meeting on 5 Ma at Bath House Community Nursery, 76 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EY. E-mail fhn@live.co.uk.