Alliance calls for comprehensive analysis of free places costs

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Pre-school Learning Alliance is calling for an in-depth review of funded childcare, amid concerns that the Government has ‘severely under-costed’ its 30-hour plan.

The Conservatives have costed the doubling of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds at £350 million a year, while the Alliance’s independent research has put the figure at three times that, at 1.5 billion at current rates.

Early years funding should also be ringfenced within the Dedicated Schools Grant, it says.

The Alliance has set out its next steps following the Government’s confirmation of a funding review of the free entitlement and the setting up of a taskforce to deliver on the plans for 30 hours of childcare for working parents of three-and four-year-olds.

Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced that the scheme would be piloted from September 2016, a year earlier than the Conservatives' pre-election pledge.

Writing for Nursery World today, chief executive Neil Leitch says that while the review is ‘great news’, he has some reservations.

The Government ‘has no idea what it costs’ to offer the funded places, he says, pointing out that the Alliance has made four separate Freedom of Information requests for data on this, which the Department for Education has been unable to provide.

‘Without hard data on what it costs to deliver funded places, any promises to tackle sector underfunding are impossible to keep,’ Mr Leitch said. ‘The Government chose to dismiss the figures from the CEEDA report we commissioned – so it needs to come up with its own.’

The Alliance is calling for a full in-depth review of the system for funded places, including a large-scale analysis of the costs involved.

There should also be a statutory requirement for local authorities to collect annual data from local providers on the cost of delivering the places, with a review each year of how the funding levels and data compare.

  • Read the Neil Leitch’s comment in full here.

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