Councils receive Government grants to help providers offer the 30 hours

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Nearly all local authorities in England have received a share of £7.7 million to support delivery of the 30 hours in 2017-18.

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Councils across England will receive grants to support delivery of 30-hour childcare for three- and four-year-olds

The highest allocation of £130,699 has gone to Kingston and Richmond, followed by Leeds with £105,000, and Suffolk County Council with £101,406.

The new fund totalling £7,301,950 is being made available to support delivery of places for the 2018 summer term, as more children become eligible.

In addition, 42 local authorities have received a share of up to £10,000 each from a total pot of £398,350 for small-scale capital funding projects in 2017-18.

Funding has been made available for building, or refurbishment to create more 30 hours places - for example dismantling walls or adding extra toilets.

Launching the bidding process for the 30 hours delivery support fund last November, the Government said it was aware of the pressure that the first year of rollout of the 30 hours would put on some local authorities and providers and recognised that demand will rise throughout the academic year as more children turn three, and parental awareness of the 30 hours increases.

Parents of eligible children need to apply now for a place for the summer term.

The Department for Education said that to ensure the fund was invested where it is needed most, councils bid for support that would help meet their individual challenges and enhance their delivery of 30 hours in the summer term and beyond. The DfE said that the vast majority of councils would benefit from funding for projects as all councils that submitted an application in the bid round will receive a grant. 

The fund will provide support to 147 local authorities for work that will directly benefit 30 hours delivery and will create (directly or indirectly) new 30 hours places for the 2018 summer term.

Some of these local authorities will receive additional support outside of the delivery support fund bid round for a range of projects, including to develop their IT systems.

Minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi said, ‘We are investing record amounts in childcare as we continue to help hundreds of thousands of families access high-quality, affordable childcare – supporting parents go back to work or increase their hours without worrying about the cost.

‘The Delivery Support Fund will help councils work with childminders, nurseries and preschools in the local area to further boost delivery of the 30 hours free childcare offer. Thanks to the hard work of early years professionals who are making the first year a success, parents are already seeing the benefits of the scheme, with more money in their pockets and support in balancing work and family lives.’

The type of work funded through the grants ranges from projects to improve access to 30 hours for children with special educational needs and disabilities to tailored childminder support packages, and work to create networks among different types of childcare providers in a local area.

Luton Borough Council has received £76,222.

A council spokesperson said, ‘We are delighted to receive additional funding to support Luton’s delivery of the 30-hour childcare offer and are now putting into action our proposals.

‘Our project will promote strong networks between providers, communicate the scheme further to parents and support families with children who have special educational needs and disability (SEND) to access additional childcare opportunities and more.’

The projects being funded across England include:

  • £768,000 for SEND support – funding to help improve access and secure sufficient quality 30 hours provision for children with SEND;
  • £538,300 for childminder support – projects focused on recruiting new childminders and helping those already up and running to offer and deliver 30 hours to working parents and;
  • £778,200 for partnership hubs – projects that will develop new networks between childcare providers in a local area, with the aim of ensuring that parents can access their full 30 hours across more than one provider if that works best for them.

Commenting on the grant allocations, Pre-school Learning Alliance called on the Government to stop ‘tinkering around the edges’ and give providers sufficient funding to offer the 30 hours.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘While local authorities are likely to welcome any financial support they can get from Government, the fact is that this funding, which in the vast majority of areas amounts to less than £100,000, can only ever have a limited impact on councils’ - and providers’- ability to deliver the 30-hour offer in a sustainable way.

‘It’s clear from the decision to create the “delivery support fund” that the Department for Education is all too aware that ensuring sufficient 30 hours places for the summer term is going to be a real challenge. Rather than tinkering around the edges with ad hoc pots of funding to councils, the Government needs to tackle the root cause of sufficiency problems: insufficient funding for frontline providers.

‘With key costs like wages and business rates set to increase next month, but many providers seeing little to no change in funding rates, the situation is only going to get worse unless the Government takes action soon.’

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