Despite a few flurries of anticipation that some extra funding for the early years sector might be conjured up by Philip Hammond, nothing seemed to be there, leading childcare organisations to reinforce warnings about the prospects for 30 hours and settings’ sustainability.
Instead, he told Parliament that the National Living Wage would rise to £7.50 an hour from April 2017. Now this is good news for low-paid, well-deserving nursery staff, of course, but yet another cost pressure for their employers, casting even more doubt on the viability of the funding rates for the free entitlement. An improved hourly rate will mean nothing if your job disappears.
Meanwhile, the majority of the education sector was not exactly beaming at the news of £50 million to support the expansion of exisitng grammar schools. This pet project of Theresa May’s is being rewarded at the expense of the underfunded school system as a whole.
And as one practitioner tweeted, ‘just think what the early years could do with £50 million!’.
Family charities waiting for much-touted measures to improve the lot of the JAMs (just about managing), also failed to find what they had hoped for in the statement, doing the sums which showed how much hardship was in line for many families.
Having produced his damp squib, Mr Hammond promptly abolished the Autumn Statement to the sounds of (hollow) laughter.