Editor's View - Wrecking providers' building projects makes no sense

The scale of cuts to early years capital funding is only just beginning to emerge, as our Analysis this week shows (see pages 12-13).

The Department for Education is still discussing the amounts to be slashed in many areas, but some local authorities have already had cuts of several million pounds confirmed. The total across the country will be huge and the effects devastating.

Capital funding for buildings and resources was split into two pots - one for children's centres and one mainly aimed at the private and voluntary sector (known as the Quality and Access Grant), with projects due to be completed by the end of March 2011.

There are obvious parallels with the Building Schools for the Future furore, with schools way down the line to carrying out building projects suddenly left without the money.

However, the repercussions for private and voluntary early years settings who have their promised grant axed could be even more serious for the individuals concerned. Some have invested large sums of their own money on consultations and architectural plans; some have expanded their services because pressure has been put on them along with a pledge of new premises. Some stand to lose their businesses; some could lose their homes.

It cannot be right that the responsibility for the fallout from this move will land with pre-schools, nurseries and childminders who did what they were told to do.

If the new Government still sees the principle of childcare sufficiency as fundamental, then these funding cuts make no sense. It will cost far more to set up new provision from scratch than to build an existing provider an extension, and if settings are forced to close, there will be shortages of childcare places.

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