TOO MUCH How will an underfunded sector react to reports that the Government is keen to ‘do something eye-catching’ on childcare places? There is speculation this could mean extending the funded childcare offer to all two-year-olds, or extending the 30-hours funding beyond term time.Parents are also campaigning for more ‘free’ hours – a petition in April was due to be debated in Parliament on 18 November. As one member of Champagne Nurseries Lemonade Funding said, ‘If they can’t afford to pay adequate rates for the current funded places, how on earth could increasing entitlement succeed?’
MP’s PLEA Rhondda MP Chris Bryant has caused outrage after suggesting MPs should receive expenses to cover the cost of childcare to keep up with additional sittings in Parliament. Speaking last month when MPs met to debate the latest Brexit deal, the MP said the Saturday sitting was ‘very inconvenient for many people who have children’. Mr Bryant, who has no children, asked if it would be ‘incumbent’ on the parliamentary standards body to make financial provision for childcare. Constituent and ambulance worker Jim Charman said to hear the MP ‘bleating’ about one day’s hardship, when he works evenings, weekends and Christmas with no extra support, was ‘galling’.
PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED? So, the Government now has to publish its workings on funding rates following a long-running FOI battle with the Early Years Alliance. This means the sector will know whether the money paid to providers by the DfE takes cost rises into account. Fiveways Playcentre ex-treasurer Keith Appleyard is one of many to question the likelihood of this. He said, ‘I worked out (not including any skewed results from increases in NMW) that my funding rate should be circa £6.40, rather than £4.’ The information commissioner has ruled the workings must be published by 14 November – make no mistake, this is going to be a big deal.